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Sabine Lisicki too strong for Italian veteran

Sabine Lisicki plays a backhand shot against Francesca Schiavone in her First Round.
by Dan Imhoff
Tuesday 25 June 2013

Sabine Lisicki has ensured Italy’s effervescent veteran Francesca Schiavone has the unwanted honour of not having won a match since turning 33. Given Schiavone’s birthday was only on Sunday and this being her only match since, she has plenty of time to change that.

But on Tuesday there was little joy for the former French Open champion as a rampaging Lisicki hit her off the court 6-1, 6-2 under fading light on No.1 Court. Entering her 13th straight Wimbledon main draw, the Italian hit just six winners to the German’s 25 and never notched up a break point throughout.

Lisicki is looking to repeat her Wimbledon heroics from the past three years, where she has reached the quarter-finals or better each time. “It’s a tough match to play Francesca in the first round. I actually didn’t realise she wouldn’t be seeded,” a beaming Lisicki said afterwards. “We actually practised together on Thursday. “I go match by match. I was very happy to be back on No.1 Court, good memories here.”

The only time they had played before was on hardcourt back in 2009 where Lisicki failed to win a game. That, however, would be a bit of an unfair assessment as the German retired injured while trailing 6-0, 1-0.

On Tuesday, she took control early, breaking twice for 5-1 before closing out the opener with an ace, 6-1. She broke immediately to begin proceedings in the second set and when a meek backhand from Schiavone only landed halfway up the net at 4-2, it was clear the writing was on the wall for the dogged Italian.

Lisicki charged through the final two games to book a second-round meeting with last week’s Eastbourne winner Elena Vesnina. “Tough match as well. She has a lot of confidence. I have to play well again,” she said of her second-round opponent.

The German will carry an impressive record on the grass into her meeting with the in-form Vesnina. While she fell to qualifier Alison Riske in the Birmingham quarter-finals coming into this year’s Championships, she will draw on more impressive results from her past Wimbledon campaigns.

In 2009, she took out three seeds to reach the quarter-finals before going one step further the following year, falling to Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals. Last year, seeded 15th, she reversed the result against the Russian, upending the top seed in straight sets before falling to eighth-seeded countrywoman Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals.

Injury and a drop in form have seen the 23-year-old drop to 24th  in the rankings and barring a quarter-final result in Stuttgart, it has been a lean spell since making back-to-back finals in Pattaya City and Memphis in February.

A push towards a potential fourth-round clash with top seed Serena Williams would go a long way to restoring Lisicki’s season.

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