Sabine Lisicki: "England is such a special place for me."
AEGON Classic: Sabine Lisicki is aiming to put things right in Birmingham
Deposed Classic queen Sabine Lisicki hopes Germany’s tennis players can emulate their footballers’ mastery of England’s grass. The 2011 champion returns to Birmingham next week when she begins her campaign to regain the AEGON Classic title she lost so meekly last year. And she has also set her sights on continuing her country’s summer of sport which began last month when Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund served up an engaging Champions League final at Wembley.
Football fan Lisicki picked Bayern to come out on top and she hopes to do likewise in her third tilt at the Maud Watson trophy. Indeed, she is just one of several German players currently congregating at the top of women’s tennis, with four players in the top 40. But while Angelique Kerber and Julia Goerges won’t be at Edgbaston Priory this year, Lisicki and compatriot Mona Barthel certainly will, with Lisicki’s grass court pedigree making her one of the favourites for the title.
As two of the top seeds we could be set for another all-German encounter. “It was unbelievable to see two German teams in the Champions League final. I thought it was going to be 3-2 to Bayern,” Lisicki said. “But when I saw the first half I thought ‘oh no, there’s no chance there are going to be that many goals’. ‘‘The goalkeepers are too good. I was a bit more for Bayern Munich but I really like the way [Robert] Lewandowski plays, I think he’s fantastic. I just hope German tennis can be as successful this summer.”
Lisicki can hardly be less successful at Edgbaston Priory than she was last year when she arrived as defending champion and fell at the first hurdle. The 23-year-old was a shadow of the player who smiled her way to the 2011 crown and was dumped out in straight sets by Urszula Radwanska. “I was just coming back from an injury, it was very unfortunate, I was really disappointed as defending champion,” she recalled. “I lost a couple of tournaments first round but the important thing was I was able to turn it around for Wimbledon.”
Indeed she was. Lisicki went to Florida to train for a week, returned to Britain in far better form and reached the quarter-finals at the All England Club, beating Maria Sharapova en route. Having reached the semis in 2011 that only confirmed her status as a very dangerous grass court player. “England is such a special place for me, it’s such a nice atmosphere and I just love playing on grass,’’ she said. “It’s just a shame about Birmingham last year but I hope I can play better this year.”