Nick Bollettieri: Sabine Lisicki has all the big weapons to win - she just needs to learn to use them sparingly

You watch her play and at one point you’re saying “Holy tuna, she’s unbeatable

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Sabine Lisicki changes coaches as often as I used to change wives, and that’s way too frequently. You can’t have continuity doing that. You watch her play and at one point you’re saying “Holy tuna, she’s unbeatable,” then four or  five minutes later the ball is going into  the stands.

Sabine showed a few years ago she can play on this grass. In 2011 she entered Wimbledon as a wildcard and went on to reach the semi-finals. Two years later she made the final but lost to Marion Bartoli. She had put out Serena Williams, who was top seed, on the way, but had a bad day in the final and went down 6-1, 6-4.

That’s Sabine. Whether she wins or loses has very little to do with the opponent, it is all about her and not many can say that. She controls her destiny. She has huge strokes, but too often she wants a home run, she wants a six, she wants a touchdown. When she should be building a point she goes for broke, there is no in between.

Lisicki has hit the fastest serve by a female player – a 131 mph missile in Stanford last year. A couple of weeks ago at Edgbaston she sent down 27 aces, the most in a women’s singles match on the tour. So she has the weapons, but she has got to stop losing points she should be winning. Anyone who can serve like that should have the mental attitude to say, “I don’t need to panic on those shots and go for home runs.” She wants to get on base, then once in a while go for the home runs.

 

But if you change coaches as often as Sabine does you begin to wonder if anyone can get into her mind and persuade her of this. She has all the guns but she does it her way. She was at the IMG academy for several years, living there from the age of 14, and was an interesting challenge to coach. I likened her to a wild horse that needed taming, but not in such a way she lost her tenacity, daring and confidence in shot-making.

Sabine needs to be focused as her opponent will hang in there because she has the maturity to manage a game. Timea Bacsinszky is having a second career having quit to work in the hotel business. She had some issues with her father, who had been her coach, which sadly happens sometimes, and she fell out of love with the game.

The Swiss had actually packed it in completely when she was sent an entry to qualifying for the French Open. She thought “why not?” So she took time off from work, she went along to play, and though she lost she realised she still liked playing tennis. So she went back on the tour and last month made the semi-finals of the French Open. That’s taken her to No 15 in the world rankings, her highest placing.

It’s a helluva story. It would make a great movie – though Hollywood would have had to change the ending so it finished with her winning the French, with a dramatic fightback in the third set while carrying an injury! But while Bacsinszky’s obviously got talent, this match is all about Lisicki. It will be determined by how Sabine plays. If she can maintain focus, not give away outright points, and once in a while play defensive tennis, she is a threat against anybody in this tournament. If...

How to play better: always process a point and be flexible

This year I have done some coaching videos, providing quick tips exclusively for readers of The Independent. But for any of you guys out there without instant access to the web (is there anyone like that now?) here’s a couple of tips in old-fashioned print.

My first one is to always focus on the next point. Andre Agassi had a simple rule. The next point is always the most important of the match. You cannot change history, but you can make new history. That is why Maria Sharapova takes four steps back after every point, win or lose. She is parking the past and getting on with the future. I’m told some batsman in your cricket do the same between balls, they go for a little walk, or dab at the ground with their bat. It is just a little thing but it helps you retain your focus.

Secondly, be flexible. You have to be prepared to adjust during a match. It is no good having a plan to deal with an opponent you expect will be aiming to play long rallies, then failing to adapt when they start trying to hit winners off every ball.  You never know how an opponent will play, so you have to be prepared for anything and everything.

Nick Bollettieri’s Independent videos are at independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/wimbledon

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