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Sabine Lisicki's love affair with grass continues

by Ron Atkin
Monday 30 June 2014

Sabine Lisicki’s love affair with the grass courts of Wimbledon continues apace. Her 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic in a match much delayed by adverse weather conditions puts her into the last 16 of the Ladies’ Singles, an event where, in her last four appearances, she has finished runner-up, a semi-finalist and twice a quarter-finalist.

She had already taken the opening set on Saturday evening when darkness put an end to the proceedings. Rain caused another delay on today’s resumption with Ivanovic leading 5-2 in the second set and when, after an hour and 20 minutes, they restarted the Serb promptly levelled the match, only for the German to run away with the third set in just 27 minutes, finishing off with successive aces.

“It’s so much fun to play out there,” said Lisicki of the Wimbledon surface. It certainly appeared that way in the third set when she pulled away impressively. Lisicki was second only to Serena Williams last year as the WTA Tour’s ace queen with 297 in 52 matches, with 45 of them coming at the 2013 Championships. There have been 102 aces so far this year, including 16 in three rounds here. “The crowd knows my story here,” she said. “I came here as a young girl and I came back from injury. It’s a big story with Wimbledon. So I love the support I’m getting here. It’s so much more enjoyable”

The two women had managed only 57 minutes on Saturday evening, and though the sun greeted their appearance on No. 1 Court after a two-day absence the clouds began to build up as Ivanovic, who was briefly world No.1 after winning the French Open six years ago and describes herself as “strong willed and extremely competitive”, lived up to that description by twice breaking the Lisicki serve before the match was again disrupted for an hour and 20 minutes.

On the resumption Ivanovic, who has shown a welcome return to her form of 2008 this year by winning three titles (her first for three years), wrapped up the second set in 38 minutes of actual playing time with a love game, although benefitting from a net cord winner on set point.

“In the third set my serve went down a little bit,” Ivanovic admitted. “And she served unbelievable in that third set. She played really, really good.” So well, in fact, that the 24-year-old Florida-based German rushed into a 3-0 lead, hustling Ivanovic out of her stride and breaking again for a 5-1 lead.

And Ivanovic must have realised her Wimbledon was over for this year when Lisicki, one of the game’s heaviest servers, prepared to close out the match with new balls, which she did with successive aces, her sixth and seventh.

Her greater number of winners, 40 to 24, brought Lisicki deserved reward for enterprise and aggression.

“She’s in top form,” said Ivanovic. “She has always played well here and I knew that. She started to swing at the ball in the third set and it was going in and it gave her confidence. Also she made some great shots off my good serves. It was tough. She was the better player.”

Lisicki was happy with her third set efforts, as she was entitled to be. “I was more focused and I was serving better. With her, you have to be ready for every single point. If you have a chance you have to use it, otherwise it can be gone in no time and you might regret not having another chance. So I think I was very focused in the third set, taking my chances and serving very well.”

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