MELBOURNE—It was clear from the start, and probably even before it began, that the first-rounder between Caroline Wozniacki
vs. Sabine Lisicki
was going to be a cut and dry affair. We knew that the bruisingly erratic Lisicki was going to hit big and, as Brad Gilbert would say, litter up the proverbial stat sheet. There would be a lot of winners and a lot of errors from her side. On the other end of the court, the undersized but tenacious Wozniacki was going to get the ball back and try to make Lisicki’s errors outnumber her winners. Wozniacki succeeded in an especially see-saw three sets, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The match began on Lisicki’s racquet, and mostly stayed there. That was good news for the German in the first set. She broke immediately with a series of big returns, and broke again when Wozniacki, trying to fight back, began to send the ball long. Through seven games, Lisicki had a healthy 16 winners against a manageable 12 errors.
With Wozniacki putting so many balls in the court, though, it was only a matter of time before the terminally inconsistent Lisicki would lose the plot, or go off the rails, or melt down, or whatever metaphor you want to use to describe a bad streak of play. But while it was Lisicki who eventually gave away this match, Wozniacki did have a hand in turning it around in the second set. After holding serve on a couple of bad Lisicki overhits, Wozniacki took the first return of the next game, snapped a forehand down the line, and made a surprise charge to the net. The ambush won her the point, and she threw a defiant fist in the air. The atmosphere had changed. Wozniacki played the rest of the set with more conviction, and weathered the ups and downs from Lisicki. In the final game, Lisicki blew two break points by missing easy forehands by inches.
The third set was equally topsy-turvy. Lisicki began looking determined to leave the last train wreck behind; she went up 3-0 after a number of excellent rallies. Unfortunately, there was another, much bigger, more embarrassing train wreck ahead for her, and it lasted until the end of the match. With Wozniacki barking “C’mon” after every point, Lisicki buried backhands in the bottom of the net, sprayed forehands wide of the doubles alleys, stumbled while trying to hit a moonball, and appeared about to wipe out while sending an overhead five feet wide. When it was over, she couldn’t get off the court fast enough.
The match can easily be told in numbers: Wozniacki’s combined winners and errors was 20; Lisicki’s was 102. You could spin this as a step forward for Wozniacki, but while she showed her usual fight and even some initiative, the match really was won, and mostly lost, on Lisicki’s racquet.