In the battle of the bubbly blondes with two of the biggest smiles on tour, German Sabine Lisicki had most cause to show off her pearly whites after easily accounting for Elena Vesnina on Thursday.
In a tough second-round draw for the No.23 seed, she entered the match ranked lower than her unseeded Russian opponent but lived up to her grass court reputation with a 6-3, 6-1 result on No.2 Court.
By virtue of her title run on the grass at Eastbourne last week, Vesnina had actually soared to No.22 in the world, two spots above Lisicki’s 24, but as the seedings for Wimbledon were determined beforehand, she was easily the unluckiest unseeded player entering this year’s Championships.
Afterwards, Lisicki was surprised at the ease of victory and was looking at the silver lining of having such a difficult draw, given the carnage, which opened up the bottom half on Tuesday.
“I'm happy I didn't play yesterday,” she laughed, in light of the slew of injuries and upsets.
“No, it was very surprising to see what happened yesterday. I just focused on myself. Had a tough draw, but when you're winning those kind of matches, you're in the tournament, you're playing well, so it's always good to have a good challenge.”
With the German up a break at 4-2 in the first set, Vesnina executed the perfect backhand drop shot winner for 0-30 only for Lisicki to return the favour with a drop shot that trickled over the net and on to the sideline.
Not to be outdone, Vesnina made it a trifecta of net-cord winners, her next backhand return clipping the tape before dropping over, drawing laughter from both girls.
Looking to make her third straight quarter-final or better at Wimbledon since 2009 (she missed 2010), Lisicki held her concentration and her serve for 5-2 and Vesnina handed her a set point at 3-5 when she cooked an easy backhand putaway at net, squealing on top note in disgust.
The let-off was enough.
Lisicki secured the set with an ace, but the on-court frivolity wasn’t to end there.
Fortunate she wasn’t a golfer, where she would have been penalised, Lisicki took a clean air swing at a backhand return and could only laugh in embarrassment.
The set presented few dramas for her from then on as she closed it out 6-1, finishing with 25 winners to her opponent’s 10.
“Well, I obviously love playing here. It's my favorite tournament of the year. Feels very special to me to come back here,” she said.
“It's always fun to play out there. Obviously on grass it's always something special. A lot of fun.”
Lisicki was adamant her annual surge on grass boiled down to one factor, her serve.
“I'm serving well and I know what to expect on the grass. I feel very good moving on the grass,” she said.
“I really, really enjoy playing here. So I think everything together makes me feel so good.”
She next meets Australian No.14 seed and some-time doubles partner Sam Stosur in the third round for a potential shot at top seed and defending champion Serena Williams in the fourth round.
“I first have to win the next round. You cannot look too far ahead. Of course I want [to] get to that match [against Williams], but first comes first,” she said.
If she can first find a way past Stosur she will happily take it, even if the odd air swing is thrown in.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...View all