Birmingham- Sabine Lisicki's Wimbledon build-up came to grief with an unexpected defeat amidst prolonged controversy in the quarter-finals of the Birmingham WTA tournament on Saturday.
Lisicki, the champion here two years ago, had hoped to win the title as she prepares for Wimbledon which she believes she can win after reaching the semi-finals and quarter-finals in the past two years.
However, she lost a ten-minute argument with the umpire and the tournament referee, and the match in three sets to Alison Riske of the United States.
The fifth-seeded German claimed that Riske should have been penalised for yelling out "come on" just four points before the end of a 7-6 (7/2), 2-6, 6-4 victory spread over two rain-affected days.
"You are not supposed to do that, it's against the rules," claimed Lisicki, who believed she should have been given a point which would have put her 30-love up on her serve in the final game, and not 15-15.
"I still had a hit on the ball," she reckoned.
"If you look at the rule book it shouldn't have been her point. It's against the hindrance rule."
Lisicki argued at length with the umpire Lucy Grant, who appeared to think that Riske's yelling, just after a drive volley from very close to the net, could not have affected the outcome of the rally.
Lisicki then called the referee, Denise Parnell, who refused to over-rule the umpire's decision, requiring the match to resume at 4-5 in the final set and the former champion three points from defeat.
"I still think I was right," said Lisicki.
"I don't think Alison did it on purpose - she probably didn't think I could reach the ball - but I think I could.
"It's happened to me before and I was given the point, and if you remember when Serena (Williams) did that against Sam (Stosur) in the US Open, Sam was given the point."
Lisicki, who was a Wimbledon semi-finalist two years ago and the conqueror of Maria Sharapova en route to the quarter-finals last year, believes she is still playing well enough to be a serious contender again.
"I believe I'm good enough to win it," she insisted.
"My serve is as good as Serena's. And although she is the clear favourite, anything can happen there."
Results from the sixth day of the WTA Birmingham Open (x denotes seeding):
Alison Riske (USA) bt Sabine Lisicki (GERx5) 7-6 (7/2), 2-6, 6-4
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVKx16) 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 6-3