Mon, Sep 15, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Top seed Lisicki fights back for Hong Kong win

AFP, HONG KONG

Sabine Lisicki returns to Karolina Pliskova, not pictured, during their match at the Hong Kong Open singles final yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Sabine Lisicki justified her top seeding by winning the inaugural WTA Hong Kong Open 7-5, 6-3 against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic yesterday.

The German had endured a lean time on tour since losing the Wimbledon final to Marion Bartoli last year, tumbling out of the world’s top 30. Lisicki only accepted a wild card into the Hong Kong tournament at the last minute after US Open semi-finalist Peng Shuai and world No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard pulled out. It proved to be a move that paid off handsomely.

“I’m very happy,” she said. “Especially because it was such a spontaneous decision. We literally decided [to play] three or four days before the tournament started.”

The scoreline says it was a straight-sets victory, but it was far from straightforward in an error-strewn match at Victoria Park.

The Czech third seed had seemed destined to avenge her second-round defeat to the German at Wimbledon this year when she raced into a 5-1 lead in the first set, breaking Lisicki’s serve twice.

However, Lisicki, who at that point was managing to put only a woeful 40 percent of her first serves into play, slowly got into her stride to spark a remarkable run in which she broke back twice to level at 5-5.

Asked if she had thought about letting the set slip away at 1-5, Lisicki gave a robust response.

“No. Never. I always fight for every single point no matter what the score is,” Lisicki said.

Pliskova again had chances to break as Lisicki faltered to 15-40 in the 11th game, but the Czech world No. 36 could not take advantage and a loose return way out into the tramlines on her second break point caused her to slam her racket down in disgust.

Lisicki served out for her fifth game in a row and squandered one set point on Pliskova’s serve in the next game, but a searing backhand crosscourt pass in the best rally of the match sealed the set 7-5. It capped an incredible run of six consecutive games for the world No. 31.

Lisicki made it seven on the trot by holding serve to open the second set, but Pliskova finally got back on the scoreboard with a service hold of her own.

When Lisicki broke again and strode out to a 4-2 lead the match looked all but over.

Pliskova had other ideas and fought back from 40-30 to break when Lisicki double-faulted for the seventh time in the match.

However, Pliskova was immediately broken again, and Lisicki served out to seal the match, collapsing to the court in joyful celebration after ending a drought of almost three years without a singles title.

“I really enjoyed it here in Hong Kong and I think that’s the reason I played so well,” said Lisicki, who is to head for Tokyo this week as the women’s tour continues its Asian swing.

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