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Sharapova reaches final despite string of errors

Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Sabine Lisicki of Germany during their semi-final match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in
Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a return to Sabine Lisicki of Germany during their semi-final match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in

By Tom Pilcher

LONDON (Reuters) - Favorite Maria Sharapova served 13 double faults in just 87 minutes yet still set up a Wimbledon final against Petra Kvitova after beating Sabine Lisicki 6-4 6-3 in an error-strewn semi-final Thursday.

The Russian fifth seed, who won the grasscourt grand slam in 2004, slipped 3-0 down to the German wildcard in the first set but found her groove as her opponent battled with nerves.

"Today wasn't my best match of the championships so I was real happy to get through in two sets," she told reporters.

John Isner, the winner of the famous 11-hour match in last year's Wimbledon against Nicolas Mahut, served just 10 double faults in that entire encounter.

Sharapova put her poor serving down to her unseeded opponent's fearless march to the last four.

"I felt like I was just rushing things on my first serve. She's someone that has pretty big swings and likes to take charge and hit the ball, she said.

"I didn't really want to give her too many looks on second serves. I think maybe I overthought it too much."

Neither player ever really got going, a combined count of 32 unforced errors telling the tale of a match that barely captivated a far from full Center Court as mobile phones went off toward the end.

Sharapova clearly did not care about statistics given she had not reached the final since her 2004 triumph.

GREAT FEELING

"To be in the final again is a great feeling. It's pretty amazing to be back on that stage," said the 24-year-old.

Several spots of rain fell in the second set, Lisicki pausing briefly to enquire whether it was safe to continue, but the showers stayed away and play continued.

Unfortunately for Lisicki, the confident game that helped her beat French Open champion Li Na and ninth seed Marion Bartoli in previous rounds never materialised.

The bubbly German received a decent ovation nonetheless as she bounced off court to play in a doubles match.

Sharapova will need a better performance to prevail against Kvitova but will fancy her chances against the Czech eighth seed in Saturday's showpiece.

"I'm just thrilled to have the opportunity to go for it," she said.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)

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