Posted by Barrie on Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Rising Tennis Star: Sabine Lisicki

It's been over a decade since Steffi Graf won her 22nd and final Grand Slam. Since then no German has come close to winning a Grand Slam (well apart from Steffi herself, losing her final Grand Slam to Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon in 1999).

It's been over a decade since German tennis fans had someone successful to cheer on. Both Nicolas Kiefer and Tommy Haas have had moderate success, but nothing in the majors. And there's been a lack of promise in the women's game for some time.

Today, Germany boasts a number of young female tennis players, 6 of them currently ranked inside the top 100. There's Kristina Barrois (81), Julia Goerges (76), Tatjana Malek (70), Anna-lena Groenefeld (65) and Andrea Petkovic (49). But the brightest spark of them all is the youngest.

At 20 years of age, Sabine Lisicki ranks number 24 in the WTA rankings. She made immediate impact when she defeated Dinara Safina in her Grand Slam debut, at the Australian Open in 2008. But her breakout year would be 2009. First she won her only WTA Championship to date in Charleston, South Carolina, defeating Caroline Wozniacki in the final. And then at Wimbledon she defeated both Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, only to be eliminated in the quarter finals by Dinara Safina after taking the opening set. She got nervous in that position when with a little more experience she could have progressed to the semi finals that day.

I also recall the tears and pain for Sabine Lisicki when she slipped over on Anastasia Rodionova's match point in the second round of the US Open last year, delaying the warm up of a men's singles match before being carted off in a wheelchair. Apart from that she's generally smiling on the court.

On the court, Sabine brings a powerful serve with her. She also has a very powerful single-hand forehand that can play winners from all over the court, especially behind the baseline. Her double-handed backhand is well-controlled too strikes with power on occasions too. Very good at rushing the net, her weak points would be a poor return of serve and an inconsistent serve of her own. A few more years of practice and experience will only make her game better. She has the hardwork and dedication to step up a few more levels.

While I definitely won't be comparing her to Steffi Graf, as there is only one Steffi Graf. Sabine Lisicki is one of a number of top young talents coming through in the women's game. While Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka are all more-likely to win a Grand Slam before Lisicki ever does, this young German girl is one for the future. She will cause a few more upsets in her career, win some more WTA events and play the 2nd week at a number of Grand Slam events. First task for her is to crack the top 10 and she can start by having a good run this week at the Australian Open.

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At 21 January 2010 at 10:26 , Blogger Scott Ferguson said...

you put the kiss of death on her! The girl can really play but she doesn't have the variety of game to deal with adversity yet. Just goes for everything - 70 unforced errors today, 46% first serve percentage and converted just three of 18 break pts against a girl with a fastest serve of under 100mph...

At 21 January 2010 at 20:42 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must agree, she has great potential but her high risk tennis is not paying off yet. She says that she works hard on her serve but I really liked her to get those unforced errors down. I have seen lots of her games and it's quite frustrating sometimes. Being able to return good and make few mistakes in basline play, it's just the basis of womens tennis. My guess is that her nerves are playing big part in all this.
She seems more like a late developer but if I'm wrong... oh boy!

At 21 January 2010 at 23:02 , Blogger Barrie's View said...

I feel bad for putting the kiss of death on Sabine! What nerves do you think she had in the 2nd round against an unfancied opponent? The draw was to be much tougher after this match with Sam Stosur and potentially Venus Williams to come. She put in a poor performance today but I am sure you will rebound from this and even learn from it at future majors to be cliche


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