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Sense of destiny drives 'Bina Boom Boom'

A forehand by Sabine Lisicki.
by Ronald Atkin
Friday 5 July 2013

There are records galore in store for Sabine Lisicki should she become Ladies' Singles Champion, most notably the first German woman to capture a Grand Slam title since Steffi Graf beat Martina Hingis at the 1999 French Open. 

And, less sensationally, she could become a Wimbledon champion who is allergic to grass. Lisicki, the Florida-based 23-year-old who is also seeded No.23, first discovered her allergy on her Wimbledon debut five years ago. "I was really struggling then," said said. "But by now I know what to do, what to take to calm those allergies down. I'm on medication."

So it is a tribute to the reputation of The Championships that she still regards it as her favourite place and her favourite tournament. Describing herself as "overwhelmed" about the prospect of the final, Lisicki insisted, "There couldn't be a better place to play my first Grand Slam final."

She does not deny, either, that she feels a sense of destiny about her participation at the 2013 Championships. "When I arrived here I told myself that anything is possible. That's what I believed, and still do. I came here to win every match and that's what I've done so far. I feel great out there. It has been a great journey, and I'm not finished yet."

Before going on court for Thursday's semi-final against Agnieszka Radwanska, Lisicki received a good luck text from Graf. And on Friday she had a chat with Boris Becker, the three-times Wimbledon champion and fellow-German, whose nickname she has inherited. Becker's style earned him the title of ‘Boom Boom’, and Lisicki says she is known back in Germany as ‘Bina Boom Boom’, Bina being her nickname. "I think it suits me quite well with my game," she smiled.

‘Battling Bina’ could be an alternative description in view of her courageous recovery from serious ankle trouble three years ago. At Indian Wells in March 2010 she damaged her left ankle so badly that she was told by the doctor she would need to spend six weeks on crutches. "So I had to learn how to walk again. My first question to the doctor was 'When can I get back?' That period made me a much stronger person. Anything is possible after learning how to walk again. And to come back and go even further than I did before the injury gives you a lot of strength."

A year after the injury, which meant a five-month absence from the tour, Lisicki's ranking had sunk to 218, but so well did she recover that the Women's Tennis Association voted her their Comeback Player of the Year in 2011. That was the year in which she won titles in Birmingham and Dallas. There have been fine subsequent performances but no more titles, which is why victory tomorrow at her favourite location would be perfect. “That would be something I have been dreaming about since I was a little girl," she said.

Lisicki is the favourite with the betting fraternity, and also with the Wimbledon audiences who have loved her positive and cheerful demeanour. "It's so nice to have the support of the crowd," she said. "They are happy to see someone who loves what they are doing and there is no better feeling in the world to have so much support on that beautiful Centre Court. It makes it so much more fun."

Lisicki knows all about her opponent Marion Bartoli's on-court antics and rituals. The fact that she handles them well is reflected in the fact that she has come out on top in three of their four previous matches, including a quarter-final at the 2011 Championships.

She pays tribute to Bartoli's aggression but has already dealt with plenty of that over the past fortnight. "From the start of the tournament I have had great matches and good challenges which have prepared me for tomorrow. I'm really ready."

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