Serving Up A Storm, Lisicki Wins Birmingham
Published June 13, 2011 12:00
BIRMINGHAM, England - She was all the way up to No.22 in the world in 2009 before an ankle injury stopped her momentum, marring her 2010 season and pushing her out of the Top 100; but this year Sabine Lisicki has shown flashes of her former brilliance and on the lawns of Birmingham this past week it all came together, as she stormed to the AEGON Classic trophy.
Although she was unseeded in the draw, Lisicki's massive serve and powerful groundstrokes made her a dangerous floater from the start, as did the fact that the last time she played on grass, she made it all the way to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. Here she won a series of close two-setters - including over seeds Kimiko Date-Krumm and Magdalena Rybarikova - to reach the semifinals, where she really shone, routing No.3 seed Peng Shuai, 63 61.
"It's nearly impossible to put into words - it has been a really great week for me," Lisicki said after her semifinal win over Peng. "I just love grass. I've been progressing and getting better and better throughout the week."
Meanwhile on the other half of the draw, Daniela Hantuchova was continuing to show why she's headed back to the upper echelon of the WTA - having posted some strong results in her last few tournaments on clay, including an upset of Caroline Wozniacki at Roland Garros, the No.4-seeded Slovak cruised into the semifinals without losing a set then put her own powerful game on display in a come-from-behind 67(2) 63 62 win over No.2 seed Ana Ivanovic.
With Sunday's final postponed to Monday due to rain, the players had the chance to recharge - and on the day it was Lisicki who served bigger, losing just 11 points in nine service games and firing eight aces in the first set alone, breaking Hantuchova three times en route to a 63 62 championship win.
Lisicki collected her second WTA title, her first coming on the clay courts of Charleston in April 2009. She has now won 10 of her last 11 matches on grass, going 4-1 at Wimbledon in 2009 and 6-0 in Birmingham this week.
Hantuchova was playing her second final of the year, having won Pattaya City on hardcourts in February. She is now 4-8 in her career in WTA finals.
In the doubles final, which was moved to an indoor facility Sunday, No.2 seeds Olga Govortsova and Alla Kudryavtseva bounced back from a first set blowout to beat No.3 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 16 61 105. It was the pair's second WTA doubles title together after Memphis earlier this season; Govortsova won her sixth WTA doubles title, Kudryavtseva her fourth.