Wimbledon: Sky Sports' tennis expert Raz Mirza talks to Sabine Lisicki

By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza.   Last Updated: 02/07/13 12:53pm

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Back home in Germany they call Sabine Lisicki "Boom Boom Bine" because of her 120 miles-per-hour serves. Seeing her in full flow, you can see exactly why.

After some career-threatening injuries, Lisicki is back on her favourite surface and hitting form ready to challenge for the dream of becoming 'Queen of Wimbledon' for the first time.

It's a dream not out of the question either because just two years ago Lisicki became just the second wildcard to reach the semi-finals. And a year later she conquered Maria Sharapova en route to the quarter-finals.

So what about her chances this year? Well, she believes she is playing well enough to be a serious contender again.

And who would argue against her! The former world No 12 is already a force on grass and has the perfect game for it too.

The 23-year-old is always one of the happiest player's on court ...

She has a liking for striking the ball boldly and early as well as taking advantage of the speed of the surface, often setting it up with a forceful first serve.

The service action is a weapon which is nicely complemented by her flat, blunt groundstrokes and clever shot variation which usually has her opponents scrambling across the baseline.

Her preparations ahead of Wimbledon have not gone quite according to plan.

The Troisdorf-born player suffered an unexpected defeat in the quarter-finals of the Birmingham WTA tournament against American Alison Riske, albeit amidst prolonged controversy.

In the final game the German claimed that Riske had broken the rules by yelling "come on" before the ball had died from a fierce drive volley struck close to the net.

Better serve

But the manner of that defeat hasn't hampered her confidence. She claims to have as good a serve as world No 1 and 16-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

"My serve is as good as Serena's. And although she is the clear favourite, anything can happen there."
Sabine Lisicki

"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."

The world No 23 is pretty adamant that this could be her year at the All England Club after coming so close in the past.

"That's the goal," the right-hander said with her infectious smile. "When you have a good serve, it's very important for grass because it sets you up for the big points.

"You know, it's always good because then you can attack the return game."

And when asked why she is so in love with the surface, Lisicki replied: "I just feel so much at home on grass. As soon as I practised on grass for the first time, it just felt like I've been on it my whole life, so it's always a nice feeling to come back and play on grass - I really enjoy it.

"I love playing tennis and it's always fun to be out there. I always play well and feel well when it comes to this surface. There are always a few missed bounces so you have to have humour. It doesn't make me angry because it is never going to be perfect."

It seems that everything about Wimbledon is permanently etched into her brain. She's living and breathing it and enjoying the whole razzmatazz build-up to the tournament.

"Playing on grass is just a lot of fun," she said. "We have to adapt to it but you cannot take it too seriously.

"It's great being here. I have a lot of fans here in England, so it's always fun to play here."

She kisses the grass court after her AEGON Classic final victory over Daniela Hantuchova in 2011

Rather worryingly for Lisicki though is the revolving door of coaches she's had in the past six months and they've all had to work alongside her father, Dr Richard Lisicki.

Team Lisicki decided to bring in Caroline Wozniacki's former coach Ricardo Sanchez after her Australian Open exit to the Dane in January.

However, that partnership lasted just a few months before he was replaced by Robert Orlik, who also works with compatriots Mona Barthel and Annika Beck.

But, after her third-round exit to eventual semi-finalist Sara Errani at the French Open, it's been all change once again.

And with Wimbledon fast approaching, Wim Fissette, former coach of Kim Clijsters, has started working with her.

Lisicki seems rather calm about the situation and insists it is important for Fissette to communicate well in order for things to work out.

"Yeah, it's been a couple of weeks now, so we'll see how we go from here," she said.

"What I like is that he works with my dad together so basically I have two coaches but they communicate well. In fact we all communicate well with each other."

Injury problems

Lisicki's last WTA Tour title came in 2011 when she won the Texas Open in Dallas, but since then she has suffered from a number of injuries which have put her career progression behind schedule.

In 2010 she missed more than half a year's tennis due to an ongoing ankle injury as well as abdominal and shoulder problems, but she put all that behind her in 2011 when she was named comeback player of the year.

This year she has suffered through illness and has had to pull out of a couple of WTA tournaments. In all, she has retired from as many as 13 matches during her career.

"We have five really good players now at the top of the women's game and it's fun to see a lot of Germans coming through and having an entire group of them too."
Sabine Lisicki

So many problems and she's only 23-years-old. Hard to believe isn't it? The subject is clearly a touchy one for Lisicki who was less talkative when it came to discussing her injury-hit career.

But, on a positive note, she is pleased to see a number of top quality players coming through the system in Germany.

Angelique Kerber is currently the highest ranked German female tennis player at seven in the world, while Julia Goerges, Mona Barthel and youngsters Annika Beck and Dinah Pfizenmaier are two of the brightest stars.

"Yeah, it's always nice to see players coming up through the ranks," said Lisicki.

"We have five really good players now at the top of the women's game and it's fun to see a lot of Germans coming through and having an entire group of them too."

If you do happen to be heading to SW19 this summer, then keep your eyes and ears wide open for the big-serving Lisicki because she's my outside tip for this year's title.

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