MALLORCA, Spain - Sabine Lisicki made a victorious return from injury at the Mallorca Open, splitting sets with the big-hitting Kiki Bertens before the Dutchwoman was forced to retire due to a right ankle injury, 6-2, 3-6, ret.
"I know how it feels when you tweak something, especially during a match," Lisicki said in her post-match press conference. "I really hope it's nothing too seriously, but obviously I'm happy I get to play another match."
Playing as a wildcard in Mallorca, Lisicki won the first set before Bertens rolled her ankle, soldiering through the second set before pulling the ripcord shortly after leveling the match.
"It was interesting out there because of the nerves, and you're not used to the match rhythm. Everything that used to be normal, you realize you have to focus on. But it felt good to be back on court. I was pretty calm, but mostly just excited to be able to compete without pain."
Lisicki has been ranked as high as No.12 in the world, finishing runner-up at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, but an off-season injury incurred at a WTA 125K Challenger in Hawaii kept the German sidelined through the first six months of the 2017 season, causing her ranking to tumble outside the Top 100.
"You think about the off-season as a time for a break, and that everything will be fine, but this injury just started bothering me the more I started to practice," she said of the injury, an inflamed bicep tendon. "I had it once before, and when I kept playing through it, it took ages to recover.
"Obviously I need my serve; it's a big part of my game. We wanted to take care of it. I thought I'd be able to come back sooner, but as I practiced more, the pain came back a little. Turns out I got to come back on my favorite surface!"
Lisicki has been long snakebitten with injuries, and admitted to allowing her passion for the game keep her from becoming fully fit in the past.
"Deciding when to come back was probably one of the hardest things. I love playing tennis, so watching matches and the tournaments was so painful because you want to be there. Even this, getting asked all these questions!" she added, referring to her chats with the media.
"I've made the mistake enough times of coming back to soon, including last year because I wanted to play the Olympic Games so badly. I decided to give myself the time to fully heal. I did so much rehab and so much not fun work in the time I was away! I really prefer to be on court, on tour, to be honest. For me, there's nothing better than competing on tour."
How did Lisicki spend her time away from tennis?
"I enjoyed spending time with friends, which you sacrifice as a tennis player. Since juniors, you don't get to do that; you barely get to see the town where you live!
"But it's good to be back. I don't want to see any doctors anymore!"
Up next for Lisicki is another big-hitter in American Shelby Rogers, who passed a tough test from surging qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia, 7-6(4), 6-3.