German Sabine Lisicki was one of the surprise packages at Wimbledon last year, storming through to the semi-finals for the first time and today she began a new challenge with a straight sets win over Petra Martic of Croatia with a 6-4 6-2 victory in 65 minutes.
Lisicki was a wild card entry last year but came into the Championships this time at 15th seed with her opening match on Court No.16, some way removed from the Centre Court status she earned in 2011.
Since Lisicki suffered an ankle injury in April she has played and lost in the opening round of tournaments at Rome, Strasbourg, Roland Garros and Birmingham. That was one reason why today’s win was so crucial.
“It was definitely good for me there in my favourite tournament and winning the first match especially,” Lisicki said. “The atmosphere was totally different than on the bigger court but as long as you can play at Wimbledon there is no better place. It does not matter which court you are on.”
Lisicki came to the court in striking pink shoes but changed into her tennis shoes for the match. The packed crowd was an indication that the German had more than attracted attention last year and now she was being assessed for what might happen this time.
Initially it went well for Lisicki, one of five German women in the draw, as she served two aces in her opening game.
But Martic,ranked 45th in the world, showed how much she wanted to beat Lisicki for the first time in three matches as she broke through in the third game. It was a hard-won break as Lisicki played two strong points, a smash and a forehand winner down the line. But Martic snatched the break with a winning volley and then a backhand error from the German.
Martic maintained command with three aces in a row in the next game to lead 3-1. But when she was ahead 4-3 Lisicki mounted a strong counter-attack, with a forehand winner to Martic’s forehand corner taking her to break point and then a service return giving her the break back.
Lisicki won her next service game to love and clinched the set with a second break of serve when Martic double faulted on set point.
In the second set Martic fought hard to stay in the reckoning in the hope she could follow up her French Open showing where she beat a top tenner for the first time in Marion Bartoli.
But there was to be no surprise victory coming Martic’s way today. Lisicki took her serve in the fourth game and that proved to be the springboard for her path to victory with two more breaks after that.
In the final game Martic saved one match point when Lisicki hit a forehand long. Then a Lisicki forehand earned her first match point with Martic’s missed forehand signalling the end.