Sharapova screams in pain and defeat


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The Independent Online

Prior to facing Maria Sharapova yesterday, Sabine Lisicki had been asked if she would complain to the umpire that the world No 1's shrieking was putting her off, as she had done, with successful results, in the second round when facing Bojana Jovanovski.

The young German dodged the question. Come the match, she found another way to silence Sharapova, ending the former champion's tournament and reversing last year's semi-final defeat with a stunning straight-sets victory. Sharapova continued shrieking to the end but the cries increasingly sounded like ones of anguish.

"It's revenge, for all three times she's beaten me," said a beaming Lisicki after her 6-4, 6-3 win.

Having failed to take two match points, once putting a simple forehand into the net, Lisicki clinched the match with an ace.

It was a victory she could not have envisaged a month ago after a very poor spell in which she lost the opening match in six tournaments, including Edgbaston, when she was No 2 seed. Her confidence, wrote our columnist Nick Bollettieri yesterday, "was shot". Lisicki retreated to the Bollettieri IMG Academy where the 80-year-old coach told her: "Stop feeling sorry for yourself, get out there and hit it."

Which is what she did on Court One yesterday. Lisicki explained: "I went to Florida, I practised, got my confidence and shots back, I had fun again, I felt much better coming in here. Even though I lost the first game I felt great. As I got the break in the second set I knew I was going to take it home."

A rain break in the second set seemed to affect Sharapova's focus and she won just three of the next 12 points, by which stage she was 3-0 down. After five breaks in the first set but Lisicki had found her serve.

Sharapova said: "She hits the ball really hard. She likes to be the aggressive one and start the point with a really heavy shot. She came out after the rain delay really firing. There's no doubt she has a lot of potential. If she plays at this level she belongs at the top, but it is not just about one tournament."

Sharapova knows what she is talking about. Lisicki is seeded 15 while Sharapova's consistency had taken her to world No 1 after her success in the French Open, but Victoria Azarenka's 6-1, 6-0 drubbing of Ana Ivanovic yesterday means Sharapova will lose top spot, either to the Belarusian or Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

I lost the first game but I felt great. When I got the break in the second set I knew I was going to take it home