Lisicki topples Hantuchova
Sabine Lisicki (Associated Press)
Birmingham - Sabine Lisicki, who slipped outside the world's top 200 last year after seven weeks on crutches, beat fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-2 to win the Aegon Classic on Monday.
The 21-year-old German, whose only previous tour victory was in Charleston in 2007, secured her second career title after the final had been postponed on Sunday due to rain.
In a performance showing how well she has recovered from an ankle injury and how ideally her game is suited to grass, Lisicki broke her opponent in the fourth game. From there, her booming serve and fierce ground strokes always made her the likely winner.
Monday's success in the grass-court event comes a week before the start of Wimbledon, where Lisicki reached the quarter-finals in 2009. It also confirmed the wisdom of the Wimbledon committee which decided on Sunday to give Lisicki one of two remaining wild cards for the championships.
"I am in disbelief," Lisicki said. "I am shaking. It's an amazing week. At the start of it I never thought I would be standing here today. The comeback from injury was so difficult, it means so much to me," she said.
The German only recovered some composure after gently being asked not to drip tears into the Maude Watson trophy, an elegant antique silver bowl.
Looking back at her recovery, Lisicki added: "There were so many doubters, and so much stuff coming from the sidelines that I wouldn't get there. So I had this tunnel vision about getting back. I always thought I would."
Hantuchova, who beat former top-ranked Ana Ivanovic in the semi-finals, had been carrying a shoulder injury which may have affected her serve and was perhaps slightly below her best.
She only once looked like getting back into the match, at break point in the eighth game, only for Lisicki to produce two heavy, well-placed drives to escape trouble.
Lisicki, who was billed as one of the WTA Tour's new young hopes when she reached the verge of the top 20 two years ago, now seems to be close to her level of 2009 and is clearly looking forward to Wimbledon.
"If I hadn't been given the wild card, I would have been playing the qualifying tomorrow and it will be very helpful to be able to rest for a couple of days instead," she said. "But I don't want to put pressure on myself."