Before Wimbledon, Sabine Lisicki’s most memorable Major moment in 2011 was blowing a match point against Roland Garros 3rd seed Vera Zvonareva, losing the chance to pull the upset and eventually being carried off the court on a stretcher. Sometimes fate hands a player a chance at redemption. Sabine had that chance in the second round of Wimbledon 2011, facing another 3rd seed, Li Na, the Roland Garros champion. This time it would be Li Na who would fail to capitalize on not one, but two, match points. Li wasn’t carried off on a stretcher, but the Chinese star, who had reached the final of the first two Majors of 2011, lost a heartbreaker as Lisicki triumphed in three sets, 3-6 6-4 8-6.
And yet, if you follow tennis closely, you could see this coming. Sabine Lisicki is a dangerous foe, particularly on grass with her big serve. She just won Birmingham 2011 on grass, while Li Na had a lot of media and sponsor distractions after her historic Roland Garros win. Furthermore, as I mentioned in my blog entry following Li Na’s first round win, her winners to unforced errors ratio needed to be better as she went deeper into the tournament. Even with that, Lisicki was a real threat. And Sabine’s 17 aces against only 5 double faults, with her fastest serve clocked at 124 mph, were more than Li could overcome.
“The first point until the end of the match, every serve was, like, around 117 miles (per hour). I mean, this is impossible for the women.” – Li Na
With all that being said, Li Na still had two match points to win this match and probably should have. But at the same time, Lisicki played quality tennis. Not quite to the level of the Venus Williams-Kimiko Date Krumm match, but she was effective not just bombing serves, but using slice serves and a few kickers. Her second serve needs a little work. Her first serve is as good as anyone’s, including the Williams sisters. But her second serve is where to attack her. Don’t let Sabine’s ranking mislead. She was once a top 25 player rising up the rankings until a series of injuries derailed her. I don’t know how far she can go at Wimbledon. As I mentioned, as well as Lisicki played, Li Na probably still should have won. But with a win at Birmingham 2011 and knocking out the 3rd seed at Wimbledon, Lisicki is showing signs of the promise she hinted at a few years ago.
Speaking of the promise she showed a few years ago, Ana Ivanovic rolled in the second round, crushing Eleni Daniilidou 6-3 6-0. Ivanovic was solid in all phases of her game. She hit some big first serves and had that crushing forehand working. OK, I admit her first two opponents were not in the league of the top ranked players, but after back to back first round flame outs at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, every win in a Major should give Ana confidence. She has admitted that confidence has been an issue for her at times. But if she can believe in herself, she has the tools to make a run. Kim Clijsters isn’t here. Samantha Stosur and Jelena Jankovic have already been upset. Li Na has likewise been ousted. The Williams sisters are making comebacks after long layoffs, with both already being taken to three sets early in the tournament. Caroline Wozniacki, unlike Ana, has never won a Major. Ditto for hopefuls Petra Kvitova and Vera Zvonareva. If, and I admit it’s a big if, Ana can trust herself in the moments that will test her will, she could have a great Wimbledon run.
Singles – Second Round
(WC) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. (3) Li Na (CHN) 36 64 86
(6) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 75 63
(7) Serena Williams (USA) d. Simona Halep (ROU) 36 62 61
(12) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 60 62
Petra Cetkovska (CZE) d. (13) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 36 76(5) 64
Nadia Petrova (RUS) d. (14) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 63 63
(16) Julia Goerges (GER) d. Mathilde Johansson (FRA) 76(10) 62
(18) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (WC) Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) 63 60
(19) Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. Anna Tatishvili (GEO) 36 64 62
(21) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 64 62
(24) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Polona Hercog (SLO) 61 62
(26) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. (Q) Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) 75 75
(27) Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) d. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) 76(1) 63
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d. (31) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 60 67(3) 64
Tamira Paszek (AUT) d. Christina McHale (USA) 64 61
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 64 57 62
Melinda Czink (HUN) d. Anastasiya Yakimova (BLR) 75 63
(Q) Misaki Doi (JPN) d. Zheng Jie (CHN) 63 61