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July 6, 2013

Allergic Lisicki awaits Bartoli, London grass

LONDON — Sabine Lisicki is allergic to Wimbledon, sort of.

Not the town in southwest London, and not the All England Club. But she does have hay fever, making her hypersensitive to the very grass for which the tournament is so famous.

That affliction, of course, won’t stop her from playing in the Wimbledon final today, when either she or Marion Bartoli will end up with a first Grand Slam title.

“I learned how to cope with that,” Lisicki said Friday. “In the beginning, the first time I was here, which was, what, five years ago, I really was struggling with the allergies. But by now I know what to do, what to take, to calm those allergies down. I’m on medication.”

She also knows what to do on the tennis court when she steps onto the finely manicured lawn on Centre Court.

On Thursday, the 23rd-seeded German rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third set to beat Agnieszka Radwanska and reach her first major final. She did the same thing in the fourth round, when she eliminated defending champion Serena Williams.

“I had a lot of challenges on my way to the finals with players being aggressive, players who were very solid, moving very well,” Lisicki said. “So it will be another challenge.”

Saturday’s match will be only the second time in the 45-year Open era that two women who have never won a Grand Slam trophy will play for the championship at the All England Club. And it’s difficult to say who has the edge.

Bartoli has been in this position before, reaching the 2007 Wimbledon final before losing to Venus Williams. And she hasn’t lost a set so far this year, winning all six of her matches in straight sets. But Lisicki is 3-1 against Bartoli, including a win at Wimbledon two years ago when the 23-year-old German reached the semifinals.

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