German wildcard Sabine Lisicki added another gripping chapter to her remarkable Wimbledon story when she recovered from wasting three match points to beat Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1 under the Centre Court roof in an enthralling quarterfinal on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old, out of action for five months last year with a horrific ankle injury, became the second wildcard to reach the Wimbledon semis after China's Jie Zheng in 2008 and the first German to do so since Steffi Graf in 1999.
Later, former champion Maria Sharapova stormed into the semifinals for the first time since 2006, blasting aside Dominika Cibulkova with an emphatic 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal victory.
Both Lisicki and Bartoli exchanged ferociously powerful groundstrokes and mixed in crowd-pleasing drop-shots in a high-quality encounter.
Lisicki, who beat Roland Garros champion Li Na in the second round, was on top from the start and won the first set convincingly.
The ninth-seeded Bartoli broke in the fourth game of the second set but Lisicki, helped by two outrageous drop shots, broke straight back. Lisicki broke again and served for victory at 5-4 but she was far too tentative and Bartoli saved them all.
In a remarkable tiebreak, 10 of the 11 points went against serve, and Bartoli took it 7-4.
Lisicki kept her mind and body under control and quickly broke to lead 2-0 in the third.
Bartoli, dripping with sweat in the humid conditions, gradually began to wilt and Lisicki ruthlessly rammed home her advantage to complete victory in two hours 21 minutes.
“I was very disappointed with myself when I played at 5-4 I missed easily, I wasn't really decided to go for it,” she said in a televised interview. “But I felt I was the better player today and I knew I just had to focus and fight again in the third set to win it.
“I really can't explain how I feel. I was just such a tough route back (from injury) and it's so wonderful to be standing on Centre Court which I love so much.
“I did a very good job to get here, I'm getting better with each match and I have absolutely nothing to lose.”
Federer, Nadal through
On Monday, six-time champion Roger Federer recovered from losing the first set to move into the quarterfinals with a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Russia's Mikhail Youzhny on Monday. For a spot in the semifinals, Federer plays 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who had gone through earlier on Monday.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal overcame a major injury scare, which pushed him to the brink of pulling out of his fourth-round match, to beat Juan Martin del Potro 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4. The World No.1 needed a lengthy medical time-out at 6-6 in the first set to have his left foot bandaged.
In the quarterfinals, Nadal plays tenth seed Mardy Fish who kept the American flag flying high with a superb 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 win over sixth seed and last year's runner up Tomas Berdych.
Feliciano Lopez completed the quarterfinal line-up with a brave come-back from behind win over Lukasz Kubot. The stylish Spaniard won 3-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-5, 7-5 to earn a shot at Andy Murray.
In the other quarterfinal match, second seed Novak Djokovic will take on qualifier Bernard Tomic after the 18-year-old Australian became the youngest quarter-finalist since Boris Becker in 1986.
Federer had made serene progress through his first three matches at the All England Club without dropping a single set, but the third seed was unable to preserve that record against Youzhny on Court One.
The 29-year-old lost the opening set of the match in a tie-break, although he wasn't too concerned about that as he quickly recovered his composure to see off the tenacious 18th seed.
Federer, who last won Wimbledon in 2009, has now reached 29 consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals to extend his Open era record and remains on course to equal Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon men's singles titles.
“It was a tough first set to lose in the end because I was playing well,” Federer said. “To lose the first set in a Slam is tricky mentally. You think ‘Is he going to get a boost and play even better'. It can be quite dangerous so I was pleased to win the second set with two breaks.
“It's always somewhat tricky to play on Court One because I'm not so used to the surroundings, but I was happy with the way I played and I'm looking forward to a tough battle with Tsonga.”
Although Nadal went on to beat del Potro in four sets after the injury scare, the Spaniard admitted he was close to quitting.
“I don't know what the problem is, it seems to be a problem with the bone in the foot,” said top seed Nadal. “I thought I would have to retire at the end of the first set because there was a lot of pain. But the tape changed the situation.”
However, tests on Tuesday revealed that all was well with Nadal.
He announced that he would be fit to play his quarterfinal against Fish after a scan revealed he had not suffered a serious left foot injury.
“Yesterday, after the match I went to take an MRI at a London hospital,” he said.
“During the match I thought I had something serious. But as the match went on the pain got better and thankfully the tests don't show an injury.
Keywords: Wimbledon 2011