Well, will you look at that? Sabine Lisicki against Kaia Kanepi in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, the German against the Estonian instead of the American against the Brit – who saw that one coming?
I had high hopes for the match between Sabine and Serena Williams and I knew Sabine could challenge her as well as any player in the draw, but I still had my doubts as to whether she could go all the way. Boy, oh boy, she beat, and deservedly beat, possibly the greatest player the women’s game has seen. She outpowered the woman who has made the power game her own. It was some match from first thunderous serve until the moment Lisicki won it. I have no doubt she can now go even further just so long as she keeps all the good things in place from against Williams.
Lisicki went for broke on Monday, which is what she had to do, and it paid off. Williams called her “super aggressive” and that aggression clearly got to the world No 1. The trick for Lisicki will be to replicate that intensity on Tuesday afternoon against a player every darned person courtside will now be expecting her to beat.
Lisicki knocks the beans off the ball and has always been a damned hard opponent on her day but what has changed over the last six months is that she now is able to exert more control over that power, especially on the big points. She has improved her serve, especially the second serve, and that was demonstrated all too clearly on Monday with a string of second serve aces. Only Serena has hit it harder at this tournament.
When your game is based on hitting hard and fast then you have to be able to control your body, get the platform in place to execute the shots. She has worked with her new coach – her father Richard – on getting that stability on contact and they have put that together well.
I have to tell you I am so pleased with her. She first came to the academy four or five years ago with Richard and there has always been that talent (and she is a lovely person, too). She has claimed some big wins over her career, most of them on the grass at Wimbledon. Beating Maria Sharapova last year was big but this was bigger and she has to build on it now.
Tuesday's match will be completely different. The expectation is all on Sabine. She will have the pressure of being the favourite. Serena said Sabine was able to play aggressive against her because she had nothing to lose. There is plenty to lose this afternoon. Can she control her emotions?
Kanepi will have to play at least as well as she did against Laura Robson, probably better and she will have to mix her game up, too. If Sabine gets on a roll she is mighty hard to stop. You have to try and move her around, cross court and forwards, use the slice, heavy spin, hit into the body and change the pace on the ball.
Kanepi played well on Monday– she is a decent pro and was always going to challenge Robson. I hope you guys go easy on Laura. She has had a decent tournament, played some good tennis. Sometimes a loss can be used just as effectively as a victory. Sometimes it is good to be forced to take a pause on the ladder to success. Learn from it and climb on again.
Today’s big game: Sabine Lisicki v Kaia Kanepi
Germany Nationality Estonia
23 Age 28
Bradenton, US Residence Tallinn, Estonia
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
5ft 10in Height 5ft 11in
24 World ranking 46
3 Career titles 4
$2,884,131 Prize-money $3,145,935
13-4 Wimbledon record (W-L) 5-6
Semis (2011) Wimbledon best QF (2010)
0 Head-to-head 1
Nick’s prediction: Lisicki to win in three sets
Shocks keep coming but Murray is looking good...
If Serena Williams was sent flying off the Centre Court after a wild-west shootout against Sabine Lisicki then Andy Murray’s progress was much more straightforward. Mikhail Youzhny is a good player and a good player on the grass in particular, but he ran out of gasoline on Monday.
The Russian has had some tough matches on the way through, in particular a see-saw five-setter against Vasek Pospisil, and I felt he just ran out of steam. But the thing about Murray is that he makes damn sure you run out of gas and he left Youzhny sitting on his ass out there on Centre Court.
What a Wimbledon it has turned into. You don’t know where the next shock coming from, Nadal, Federer, Serena ... I said there are no easy rides in the Slams and that has so been the case this year.
Gee whizz, what a year it is turning into and with the progress your main man is making while others struggle or fall … wow! I’m like the players and don’t like looking more than the next match ahead but it is looking promising for Murray and a big, big day come Sunday.
Relentless Ferrer stays in touch on the quiet
Hey guys, anybody out there seen any sign of David Ferrer, the fourth-ranked player in the men’s game, seeded four at Wimbledon? F stands for the forgotten man, but the Spaniard is still going, game by game, match by match, on he goes through the draw.
Ferrer has dropped a set in every round on the way to the last eight, where he will face a big test on Wednesday against Juan Martin del Potro, but he is through and it would be a foolish guy who underestimates what he brings to the court. He has never been beyond the quarter-finals, but his progress at Wimbledon reflects his progress overall, a steady improvement, year by year.
He is a very different player to a Novak Djokovic or an Andy Murray with their flashes of brilliance. He has got better on the grass, gone away each year and used the experience to come back better. Last year it was quarter-finals, having been in the fourth round the two years previous, and now he is back in the last eight.
Look at the stats from Monday against Ivan Dodig, a dangerous Croat. There is nothing there that leaps out at you as the reason that Ferrer won – first-serve percentage much the same, speed of serve a bit down on Dodig. He showed character to turn around a first-set loss but where his strength lies is his fitness and relentlessness. Back the ball comes, back the ball comes, back the ball comes. And it keeps coming back. He is a workman and he will work his opponent into the ground.
He came through a five- setter against Alexandr Dolgopolov on Saturday and after he went a set behind yesterday many will have thought, “Jeez, not again”. But Ferrer just gets on with it. On he goes and if you want to write him off, you write him off, but I wouldn’t do that in a hurry.