Wednesday 18 October 2017

Lisicki hits top form to dethrone Williams

Jim White

When she walked off court at the end of her brilliant victory against Serena Williams, Sabine Lisicki looked temporarily overawed.

Shaking hands with the champion, she merely repeated the words "thank you, thank you" with the sort of deference which suggested she had just been congratulated by royalty. Which, in a sense, she had; this, after all, was the undisputed queen of the Centre Court she had just deposed.

Yet the odd thing about her forelock-tugging reaction was how it contrasted to her demeanour when the ball was in play. Then she competed as if entirely unaware of Williams' elevated reputation. Scared of Serena? Not remotely.

Most who stand on the other side of court to the American seem to succumb to the strange law of physics in which all available space suddenly disappears, leaving nowhere to hit the ball. Lisicki, however, worked Williams round court, moved her out to the sides with the power of a Howitzer serve, leaving ample room to smash home a variety of winning strokes.

What she looked was entirely undaunted; unlike most who come up against the champion she refused to be intimidated by reputation.

"Obviously I went into the match feeling that I could win," she said. "I played a very good first three matches and I felt ready for this match. You know, it gave me a little more energy knowing that she won the French Open and I beat the French Open champion three times in a row in my last three (Wimbledon) appearances. So it was a good omen."

Not that the omens seemed in her favour at the start of the third set. At that point Williams looked set to maintain her usual stately progress to the quarter-finals, winning nine games on the bounce.

Normally in such circumstances, her opponents succumb to expectation. But Lisicki did not yield.

She refused to accept the inevitable, she said, simply because she thought her fortune was about to change. As far as she could see, the American was only in the ascendancy because she had been riding her luck.

"I was very unlucky," she said. "I think it was second game of the third set when I was up 40-15, she had two net cords in a row. Then again, when she served, I don't know what the score was, but again they called it late out after a good shot of mine.

"You know, I just was fighting for every single point no matter what was happening out there. Serena's a very tough player. That's why she is the number one player in the world. I'm just so glad that I could pull off the win today."

VANQUISHER

Her win means Lisicki will play Kaia Kanepi, Laura Robson's vanquisher, in today's quarter-finals. Unlike Williams, she will have no idea what to expect of her opponent when she steps out on court.

"I'm not really sure. My coaches will do some scouting. We'll watch some tapes and get me ready for that match.

"I really played four very, very good matches. I think I played better with each match. I am getting more and more confident – with my strokes, as well as my game. So I am looking forward to playing again."

And when she does play today, she can put aside her deference. With that win over Williams, everything changed for the German: the giantkiller was immediately installed by the bookmakers as the favourite to win the tournament. The queen is dead, long live the queen. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Wimbledon women's quarter-finals,

Live, TG4/BBC2 1.0

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