Darkness suspended play on Saturday; rain interrupted it today. Conditions extended this third-round clash of power players, and Sabine Lisicki's volatility terminated it.
The 19th-seeded Lisicki commanded rallies in the final set, blasting past Ana Ivanovic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, to roll into the Wimbledon round of 16 for the fifth straight time. Lawn rewards Lisicki's aggression and booming first serve: 22 of her 42 career Grand Slam victories have come at SW19. The 2013 finalist played today's final set on her terms, denying the former world No. 1 entry into service games and blasting away at the Serbian's backhand.
A highly-anticipated match swelled to a three-day saga as darkness halted play on Saturday night, giving both women plenty of time to ponder tactics before they took the court again today. They shared a similar approach: Thump the first serve and hammer the forehand into the corners to dictate play. It's point destruction rather than construction, and when they're landing the first strike, both are dangerous at it.
Ivanovic was serving facing a 4-6, 1-1 deficit when play resumed today. Lisicki drove a backhand down the line to earn break point at 30-40. Lisicki owns a bigger first serve—she hit a 122 M.P.H. blast that is the second-fastest serve in the tournament—but Ivanovic's slice serve stays low and snakes away from the receiver with sidespin to set up her first strike. She hit that slider to clear the court for a forehand drop shot and save break point, eventually holding with an ace for 2-1.
Three straight breaks followed before Ivanovic restored order, holding at 15 for 5-2. A stubborn drizzle increased in intensity and play was suspended at about 1:34 p.m. local time, 24 minutes after play began, with Lisicki serving at deuce.
After about an 80-minute rain delay, play resumed and Lisicki held, then Ivanovic issued a love hold to force the decider. To that point, Lisicki played the streaky tennis she's shown all season. She plastered a forehand winner down the line only to splatter a return into the net on the ensuing point. The question was: Could she hit a hot streak at the critical stage?
The German wasted no time taking charge of the third set. She earned triple break point in the second game, and though Ivanovic played attacking tennis to fight off all three, Lisicki stepped into the court and drilled a diagonal forehand for a fourth chance. Playing exclusively to the Ivanovic's weaker backhand wing, Lisicki drew a backhand error that ballooned over the baseline for the break, then consolidated quickly for 3-0.
Lisicki is more explosive on the run than Ivanovic—she nearly doubled the 2008 Roland Garros champion's winner output (40 to 24)—and showed it in drilling a tremendous running forehand down the line to break again for 5-1. The end was near.
Finishing with her scorching serve, Lisicki fired successive aces—the closer a 119 M.P.H. laser out wide—to cap a dominant 27-minute final set with a squeal of delight.
Next up for Lisicki is 2010 Wimbledon doubles champion Yaroslava Shvedova, who famously produced a golden set at the 2012 Championships. If this meeting is anything like their last grass clash—Lisicki was a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 victor at the 2012 Olympics—it could provide thrill points.
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