Sunday, April 19, 2009
Sabine Lisicki finally breaks through
Sabine Lisicki, the 19-year-old German whose first and second names were routinely mispronounced by almost everyone who spoke them throughout the Family Circle Cup tournament, is not a stranger to some of us. Known as the player who beat Lindsay Davenport in a Fed Cup match, Dinara Safina at the 2008 Australian Open, and Anna Chakvetadze last year in Miami--Lisicki has matured considerably as a player in the last several months.
Only three months ago, I wrote that Lisicki needed to learn how to think and hit the ball at the same time. She had ball-bashing down, but needed touch and strategy. She has them now. And she has confidence, something she apparently lacked before, when she would lose every match that followed a big win.
The affable German, who is coached by her father, put on a serving clinic during this year's Family Circle Cup, hitting a total of 36 aces during her six-match championship run. Some were speedy, some were soft and tricky. Her serve was broken only eleven times during her week in Charleston. With tour players having so much trouble with their serves these days, someone like Lisicki is in a good position to move up nicely in the rankings.
But there is more to Lisicki than her serve. Her forehand and backhand down the line are excellent, and her movement is deceptively good. It is rare for a player to win her first tournament at a big affair like the Family Circle Cup, but about halfway through the week, we would see Lisicki walk by and one of us would say "She's going to the final." She was that good, and she was that confident. She made a lot of fans this week, and will probably make a lot more this season.