Garbine Muguruza became the first Spanish woman to reach the Wimbledon final since 1996 when she beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 3-6 6-3 in an engrossing Centre Court duel on Thursday.
The 20th seed showed no early nerves in the biggest match of her career and seemed to be on course for a quickfire victory when she powered through the first set and moved 3-1 ahead in the second.
But wily 13th seed Radwanska, playing her third Wimbledon semi-final, dug her heels in and the momentum shifted her way with a run of six successive games.
Muguruza, the youngest of the semi-finalists, never lost heart though despite going down an early break in the decider, and after winning a tense service game at 2-2 she broke Radwanska and then held her own serve for a 5-2 ahead.
There were understandable nerves as Muguruza, 21, served for the match at 5-3, not helped by a foot-fault and a double-fault, but she clinched victory on her first match point with a swinging forehand volley after a powerful first serve forced Radwanska into a desperate high return.
Muguruza will face either world number one and five-times champion Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova in Saturday’s final.
Conchita Martinez was the last Spanish woman to win the Wimbledon title when she beat Martina Navratilova in 1994.