LONDON – Kirsten Flipkens and Sabine Lisicki, whose careers were almost wrecked by illness and injury, booked emotional places in the Wimbledon semifinals on Tuesday.
Flipkens will be playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal at the age of 27 after knocking out 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4,
The Belgian 20th seed goes on to face 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli, the 15th seed, who defied a chorus of boos before seeing off American 17th seed Sloane Stephens, 6-4, 7-5.
Lisicki made her second Wimbledon semifinal by cruising past Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-3, 6-3.
The German 23rd seed now tackles Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska who battled past Chinese sixth seed Li Na, 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-2.
This time last year, Flipkens, the 2003 junior champion, was ranked a lowly 262 in the world after blood clots in her left ankle forced her to take several months off.
"It's amazing, it's more than a dream come true to be in the semifinal of a Grand Slam, it's ridiculous," Flipkens said.
"Last year I didn't even get into the qualifying of Wimbledon. I still cannot believe it. I was so calm on the court, I had nothing to lose and I just went for my shots."
Lisicki followed-up her shock defeat of five-time champion Serena Williams to book her place in her second Wimbledon semifinal.
The German also made the last-four as a wildcard in 2011, three months after her world ranking had slumped to 218 as she fought her way back from a serious ankle injury which left her "needing to learn to walk again".
"It was an amazing match yesterday, but I had to make sure that I had calmed down and was ready for today," said Lisicki, who completed victory in her fourth Wimbledon quarterfinal just before rain began to fall.
"I have had experience of other years to help me. I also played the semifinals in 2011 so that helped me be ready for today."
Lisicki, who was defeated by Maria Sharapova in the semifinals two years ago, insisted that she felt no pressure coming into Tuesday's match having downed Williams in the fourth round.
"There's no pressure. I just keep playing the game that I love," she added.
It's also a surface she loves – the German's record at Wimbledon stands at 18 wins and just four losses while she is only 16-15 at the three other Slams.
Kanepi has now played and lost six quarterfinals at the majors.
Radwanska, the highest seed left following the exit of defending champion Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Sharapova, beat Li in a gripping two-hour, 43 minute contest which was completed under the Centre Court roof.
Radwanska, the runner-up in 2012, took victory on an eighth match point.
The 24-year-old Pole, who had gone into the quarterfinal with a 4-6 losing record against Li, also overcame an injury scare when she needed her right thigh tightly-strapped at the start of the deciding set.
"Li played unbelievable tennis. I was just happy to get through after struggling in the final set," said Radwanska who had also needed three sets to beat Tsvetana Pironkova in the fourth round.
"I have played so much tennis in the last few days, that's why I have the problem."
Li fired 58 winners in Tuesday's quarterfinal but was undone by 40 unforced errors.
Bartoli, the 2007 runner-up to Venus Williams, fell foul of the fans on Court One when she demanded that play be stopped when she was leading 5-4, 40-40 with Stephens serving as light rain began to fall.
When they resumed after two and a half hours, Stephens quickly dropped the first set and slipped 2-0 down in the second, losing the first nine points as the crowd, convinced that the Frenchwoman's complaints over the state of the court had been unjustified, jeered following their lengthy wait.
"I don't get why the crowd was against me," said the 28-year-old Bartoli. "The courts are slippy even when they are dry but when they are wet they can be dangerous.
"I wanted to make sure I didn't get hurt. I didn't want to come off for any other reason." – Agencies