James Lawton at Wimbledon 2013: Colossal collision on Centre Court between Sabine Lisicki and Agnieszka Radwanska strikes a blow for women's game

Sabine Lisicki against Agnieszka Radwanska was a riveting semi-final

Wimbledon

There are a 100 condescending if not openly insulting ways of describing women's tennis, even at the highest level, but not one of them came to mind when Sabine Lisicki quickened still further her love affair with the Centre Court.

The 23-year-old German caused the greatest of all the convulsions here over the last week or so when she knocked out Serena Williams but in the company of the vanquished Polish artist Agnieszka Radwanska she did something rather more in the two hours, 15 minutes of the 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 triumph that carried her into Saturday's final with France's Marion Bartoli.

Women's tennis is the anaemic, over-paid version of the men's game. It's not supposed to make the blood race. It can never compete with the majesty of a Roger Federer or the electric impact of Novak Djokovic. It is, let's be honest, taking a ride on the back of a stronger, bigger, more dramatic game.

Not today, it wasn't. There was only one way of describing the contest which surged and swayed in one direction and then another – one which had Serena's conqueror powering in serves that went as high as 120 mph and then, when infrequently demanded, a second serve guaranteed to chasten Andy Murray. It was an onslaught that drew in response the stunning, subtle grace of last year's finalist Radwanska and so there was no way that you could diminish this riveting semi-final.

When women's tennis gets a pat on the head it is generally on account of some delicate shot-making or notable spirit. Yesterday there was more than enough of that along with exceptional power and nerve, but in the end you had to say there was a colossal collision between superbly equipped opponents. If there was any poignancy at all at the end it was in the classic division of rewards.

Lisicki, who said before the match with the 24-year-old fourth-ranked Radwanska that she just loved to step on to the Centre Court, had everything, the near million-pound cheque guaranteed by Saturday's chore at her favourite workplace, the vibrant belief that she had moved her career into another dimension just a few years after crippling injuries, and the thunderous applause of the crowd.

The 23rd seeded German fell on to the turf and then threw kisses to the crowd that had supported her so warmly. Then, after a brief handshake with Radwanska, she was once again communing with rapturous fans. By then the loser had packed up her bag and was walking away into that tunnel especially reserved for contenders who have fallen just one step away from the big fight, the big show.

She got to that peak last year before losing a three-setter to Williams and so it was not so hard to understand her sense that after another fine campaign and, arguably, some of the uplifting, instinctive tennis on view, she had been left with precisely nothing.

It wasn't true, of course, She had once again added to her reputation as one of the most arresting performers either side of the game's gender divide. But, no, she didn't hug the victor who she led 3-0 in the final set and appeared to be picking apart after absorbing all her power. Some chided her for that brisk and solemn departure, but the girl from Krakow was unrepentant when it was pointed out that after such an epic encounter it would have been normal for a warm embrace between winner and loser.

"I didn't feel like doing that," she said. "Should I have just stayed there and danced? Yes, I agree it was a very good match but, you know, the truth is I'd rather play in a bad game and win the match than end up losing after that one. The problem is that I missed some chances. She is a very powerful player and she fought very well."

Lisicki proved her nerve in the downing of Williams and in the end yesterday it was restored to full working order after her ferocious serving and ground strokes had battered into the Pole's composure.

When she delivered the coup-de-grace at 9-7 it was reasonable to believe that Germany was just a heartbeat away from its first women's champion since the great days of Steffi Graf.

"She wished me luck before I went out there," said Lisicki, "She told me to go for it and that's what I did. I am so happy. I was just fighting for every point – I really did fight myheart out."

There was never a question about that. The most intriguing one was whether Radwanska could go on withstanding all that power and self-belief and finally deliver a victory born of sustained and impressive skill.

It was a compelling question in a superb collision of ambition and technique and the answer was in doubt almost to the last stroke. Lisicki claimed the place in the final that was the great promise that came with her triumph over the woman who owned 16 Grand Slam titles. Radwanska walked away with nothing, she felt. Yet that would never be true for anyone looking back at the quality for which this match will always be remembered. She had played a wonderful game beyond even a hint of faint praise.

If anyone tells you women can't really play tennis, just mention Sabine Lisicki and Agnieszka Radwanska. There can be no answer to that.

Match stats

S Lisicki 6-4 2-6 9-7 A Radwanska

9 Aces 1

7 Double faults 0

63% 1st serve in 70%

66% 1st serve points won 60%

122mph Fastest serve 102mph

32/44 Net points won 16/31

6/14 Break points won 6/14

60 Winners 21

46 Unforced errors 10

115 Total points won 111

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album