Former champion Sabine Lisicki eased past Kristyna Pliskova and into the third round of the Aegon Classic.
WTA Staff

BIRMINGHAM, England - There is something about the grass at the Edgbaston Priory Club that brings out the best in Sabine Lisicki.

Two years ago, Lisicki, then ranked No.100, chose the picturesque club as the launch pad for a spectacular return to form, leaving a trail of seeds in her wake as she romped to the title.

On Wednesday, she opened her bid to reclaim her crown in impressive fashion, requiring just 56 minutes to swat aside Kristyna Pliskova, 64 62.

"I just feel like I'm at home on grass," Lisicki said. "I started practicing on the grass on Thursday and right away it felt like I had been playing on it for weeks. It's a great feeling to be back."

"There were a few funny bounces, but that always happens on grass and you have to react to them in the best way you can.

"I only faced one break point, I think, and hit a couple of aces too. I was serving pretty well and coming up with big serves when I needed them. And the longer the match went on, the better I was able to read her serve and this helped me get into the points more and more."

Joining the German in the third round will be top seed Kirsten Flipkens, who came from a set and a break down to see off Ajla Tomljanovic, 46 64 75, and Sorana Cirstea, a 64 64 winner over former Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova.

Elsewhere, there were contrasting fortunes for some of the tournament's other big names, with No.2 seed Ekaterina Makarova and home hopes Laura Robson and Heather Watson slipping to surprise defeats.

Makarova's aggressive game has brought her success on the grass in the past - her only career title came in Easbourne two years ago - however, on a blustery afternoon, she never found her range in a 76(6) 36 60 defeat to Marina Erakovic.

Watson, playing just her third match since returning from a two-month lay-off with glandular fever, lost 64 63 to qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva, while Robson was ousted by former World No.5 Daniela Hantuchova.

After suffering an early French Open defeat, Hantuchova began her grass court preparations last week and looked comfortable from the outset, breaking early in both sets en route to a 63 64 win.

"I felt like I was in control of the match from the start and played a really solid game," Hantuchova said. "She's a great player and has a great future, but I can only concentrate on my game, which seemed to be working very well today.

"I spent quite a few hours practicing on the grass before coming here and I think it has helped a lot."