Lisicki, Kerber Tag Team Ousts Sharapova, Clijsters

| July 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

On Monday at Wimbledon, two of Germany’s talented corps of women tennis players flexed their muscles and took out top seed and world number one Maria Sharapova and perennial fan favorite Kim Clijsters.  Sabine Lisicki (15) and Angelique Kerber (8) are two of Germany’s powerful tennis team that includes injured Andrea Green and Julia Goerges.  These are four of the tour’s very fit players who look more like top ten contenders than also-rans.

Lisicki’s performances of late can only be described as erratic and disappointing.  To hone her skills, Sabine returned to Florida for some much needed practice.  On this day, she was the equal of any player in the draw. She blew past Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 with an impressive array of powerful groundstrokes and beautiful serving.  She finished the match with a second serve winner at deuce and an ace that silenced the squealing Maria and ignited an enthusiastic cheer of approval by the crowd.

Sabine Lisicki

Sabine Lisicki ousted Maria Sharapova

This win marks her first against Maria in four tries.  It also marks the third year in succession that Sabine has knocked out the newly crowned French Open Champion. This was a quality win against a quality opponent and places her squarely in the quarterfinal mix.  Lisicki’s serve topped 118 mph and she was able to break Maria four times while losing serve once in each set. The match played evenly for a while but as her confidence grew, Lisicki began to win all the big points. As Sabine surged, Maria appeared to become defensive, landing tentative first serves and only winning 56 percent of those service points.  The loss by Maria will cost her the number one ranking.

If there is any bad news for Sabine, it is that she will face her countrymate Angelique Kerber in the quarters. In their four previous matches, Kerber has ridden her strong baseline play and excellent serving to dominate Sabine 4-0.

Kerber dispatched of Clijsters 6-1, 6-1 in the former world number one’s final appearance at Wimbledon. Kim has struggled with injuries and was fortunate to reach the round of 16.  Kim Clijsters will be missed and symbolizes everything that is right about the WTA.

But, Kerber had too much game for the Belgian. She landed 77 booming first serves and won 81 percent of those service points.  She also won 75 percent of her end serves. The Kerber – Lisiscki match will be tight.  Two of the rising stars of the game will battle for a slot in the semis against the winner of 3rd seed Aggie Radwanska and upstart Russian Maia Kirilenko.

Radwanska has methodically and quietly advanced through the draw sent the last qualifier, Italy’s Camila Giorgi, to the showers in a decisive 66-minute 6-2, 6-3 victory. It was a great run by Camila but a bad day for Italy as Francesca Schiavone and Roberta Vinci were also eliminated.

Radwanski was broken once but managed 5 breaks of her own.  The Pole will be heavily favored against Maria Kirilenko (17), Russian last flag bearer.  

2012 has been Radwanska’s banner year.  With more than $2 million in earnings, 38 tour wins and 3 tour titles, it’s all gravy for Aggie.  Every aspect of Radwanska’s game is intact.  She does not lose matches she should win. She is quick and wears opponents down by patrolling the baseline with high energy and fluid footwork.  

Like many WTA competitors, Maria Kirilenko’s doubles experience has improved her play. The 25-year old Russian glamour girl has had a disappointing singles season registering 17 wins against 13 losses.  Radwanska will represent an imposing challenge tomorrow. In seven meetings between the two, Aggie has won five times, including the last four matches.

On page two of the women’s draw, the landscape is intact. Serena Williams(6) overcame a stern challenge from Yaroslava Shvedova, who recorded a miraculous perfect first set against Sara Errani (10) on Saturday. Yaroslava has been competing strongly since Paris and did not lose one point in her 6-0 first set pasting of the experienced Errani.  She won the second set 6-4 to earn a run at Williams.

Williams (6) came out firing and breezed through the first set.  The challenger upped her game to swipe the second set and the battle waged on, concluding in an emotional 7-5 third set win for Serena.  Yaroslava is a player to watch and one that opponents would rather not see in their path.

Williams will meet reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the quarters. Kvitova has never played to the level she was at a year ago.  Francesca Schiavone gave Kvitova a real run, winning the first set before faltering in a tense second set. Frustrated by a rain delay, Schiavone’s displeasure was ignored by the umpire. Petra rolled to a 6-1 third set win. The Williams-Kvitova(4) quarterfinal match has been highly anticipated. The pair has met twice with Williams winning both 2010 matches.  One of those wins was at Wimbledon but Kvitova has the power and left-handers have always given Serena problems. This bout will be a slugfest.  

The winner will meet the winner between Victoria Azarenka (2) and unseeded fireball Tamira Paszek of Austria.  Tamira reached the quarters her last year but has not performed well on other surfaces or in other events as indicated by her 7-10 won-lost record entering Wimbledon.

Along her march to the quarters, Paszek has eliminated a surprising number of accomplished opponents. The list began with her first round knockout of Caroline Wozniacki (9) and then wins over Alize Cornet and Yanina Wickmayer led her to Italy’s last hope Roberta Vinci. Vinci and Errani eliminate Paszek and McHale in the doubles but on this day it was Paszek who carried the play in the convincing 6-2, 6-2 win.

Paszek will have her hands full with Victoria Azarenka(2) who will be playing for the title and the number one ranking. Azarenka was totally dominant against Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic winning 6-1, 6-0. Needing just 62 minutes, Victoria looked very bit the part of a world number one.

The two have met twice.  The latest was in 2010 at Wimbledon.  Azarenka had dominated in the past. Time and the weather will tell.  The women’s quarters are scheduled for Tuesday.

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