STANFORD, California, July 30 - Comeback queen Serena Williams crushed Germany’s Sabine Lisicki 6-1 6-2 to move into the final of the Stanford Classic on Saturday.
Williams will meet ninth ranked Marion Bartoli in the final, who advanced when Slovakia’s Dominica Cibulkova was forced to withdraw due to a left abdominal strain.
After destroying Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-3 in the quarter-finals, Williams lifted another gear against Wimbledon semi-finalist Lisicki, dominating her from the backcourt, serving more accurately and pouncing on the German’s second serves.
It was only Williams’s 10th match since her comeback from a year-long battle with injuries and illness.
“This just continues my journey to do what I can and don’t stop and keep going for it,” said Williams, who won 82 percent of her first serve points and 13 of 17 points on the German’s second serves.
Williams won the first set when Lisicki sprayed a forehand volley, and sealed the match with two service winners.
“I didn’t play my best because I was too tight,” Lisicki said. “That’s not good enough against such a champion like Serena. I’ve never played such a strong player.
“I’m hitting the ball pretty hard and I’m not used to playing a ball so hard coming from her.”
Former number one Williams returned to the tour in late June, and won one match in Eastbourne before falling in the second round, and then as defending champion, reached the fourth round of Wimbledon before falling to Bartoli in straight sets.
“I was praying for confidence because this comeback is totally different than any other comeback that I ever had,” she said. “There are still shots I’m not going for and making that I will be able to make when I get more confident and more match play.”
Williams holds a 2-1 winning record over the Frenchwoman, but Bartoli called her victory over the 13-times grand slam champion at Wimbledon a career-changing victory.
“What I like about her is she doesn’t bow down and fights hard, but I fight hard too,” Williams said.
World number 20 Cibulkova said she felt the abdominal injury on and off during the week and had been advised by a doctor not to play lest she worsen the injury.
She added that she hoped to play next week’s tournament in San Diego.
(Editing by Ian Ransom; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)
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