Welcome to the first ever Live Edition of How the Match Was Won for a women’s match, featuring Caroline Wozniacki and Sabine Lisicki! It’s not that we’ve dissed the WTA – far from it. It’s been an issue of unfortunate timing. The Changeover went online on the weekend that the WTA held their Year End Championships, and we only started liveblogging during the ATP World Tour Finals. By that point, women’s tennis had wrapped up their season. I will say that I was planning on doing a Live How The Match Was Won for the blockbuster semifinal in Brisbane a few weeks ago, between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, but then the pedicure from hell happened.
Regardless, today’s match-up has been on the mind of the tennis world ever since the draw came out – like Lindsay said in our inaugural podcast, this is a match-up that we would expect to see much later in a tournament. It’s amazing to think that Wozniacki is just 22 years old, and Lisicki is only a year older. It seems like they’ve been around for longer than their age would suggest. They’ve only managed to play three times against each other, and it’s Lisicki who has the edge over the female half of Wozzilroy, 2-1, winning the last two meetings. Surprisingly enough, all of their meetings took place between 2008 and 2009. So, it’s been a while. It’s worth noting that the first time Wozniacki and Lisicki faced off against each other, it was at the 2008 Australian Open, a tournament which Amy, Lindsay and I discussed recently in our latest Draw Back piece.
Naturally, we can’t talk about a Wozniacki-Lisicki match without mentioning BumpGate, which took place at their last meeting, in 2009 at Wimbledon:
What to Watch For:
– Can Lisicki keep up her aggression with a modicum of consistency? Wozniacki will probably let her dictate during the points, so it’s key for the German to stay patient and wait for the right shot to attack.
– Will Wozniacki turn the tables and force Lisicki to do some defending? The Stella McCartney ambassador has to be proactive in this match, because if she limits herself to sending short balls in Lisicki’s general direction, it’ll be a short stay in Melbourne for her.
– Can Lisicki dominate with her serve? If the injury-prone grass specialist can hold easily, it will free her to attack Wozniacki’s mediocre delivery.
Somehow, the first thing I saw on my screen was Jeff Tarango:
That was frighting.
This is what Wozniacki looks like:
Alison Lang is with us today! She’s a calming presence. Maybe she’s here because of BumpGate?
And this is what Lisicki looks like:
Nike and adidas, take a bow! You’ve managed to use exactly the same colors for this Australian Open! Cue that horrible Coldplay song. Seriously, though: next time, ask around, Nike and adidas. Ask around.
I just learned that Lisicki is coached by her dad. For some reason, I didn’t know that. Thank you, Aussie commentators! They also said that Lisicki asked Alison Lang for something. Not a trainer visit, no? A little early for that, I think.
Anyway, here we go! Remember to refresh this page often!
First Set, Wozniacki will serve first:
0:0: It took Lisicki one point to blast a return winner past Wozniacki. Not a good sign. She blasts another winner for a quick 0-40 lead. Apparently, Wozniacki won the toss and elected to serve. The problem is, she’s serving into the sun right now. Lisicki goes for another return winner, misses by a mile, and then Wozniacki comes up with a nifty slider for an ace. 30-40. Lisicki pummels Wozniacki’s second serve, and we have a very quick break.
That game was ominous for Wozniacki. Lisicki killed all but two serves of hers. Not good. Not good. This is another way to look at it:
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) January 15, 2013
1:0, Lisicki: Wozniacki came up with a gorgeous backhand lob – hit on the run, no less – for the first point of this game. That was perfect. Lisicki rattles a few errors, and it’s 15-40. The first break point is saved by another blistering forehand winner down-the-line, but the second is not, as the German sends a backhand well wide. We’re back on serve.
This is interesting:
— Kevin Fischer (@Kfish_WTA) January 15, 2013
1:1: Lisicki is destroying Wozniacki’s second serve. 30-all. Now the German gets a great first serve return in, and we have another break point. However, the best point of the match (so far) takes place, and Wozniacki sends ups to deuce after some great backhands. That was nice to see. Lisicki played awesome defense there, too. Wozniacki holds with yet another good cross court backhand and down-the-line backhand combo. That’s the key to success for her.
Wozniacki can’t create spaces for herself with her forehand, but she sure can do it with that great backhand of hers. I liked what she did at the end of that game to save the BP and to hold: pull Lisicki wide with a sharp-angled cross court backhand, and then finish up the line. Sound tennis.
2:1, Lisicki: Lisicki’s serve and her forehand are so very pretty, and so very devastating. The backhand … not so much. The German holds to 15 rather easily.
Lisicki cannot make a backhand to save her life.
— unseeded & looming (@unseededlooming) January 15, 2013
2:2: Lisicki goes on a rampage with her forehand at 30-all, and then blasts another return winner – not even the letcord could stop that one – for the break.
It seems like whoever is serving against the sun has failed to hold today. Let’s see if Lisicki can manage a hold from that end in this game.
3:2, Lisicki: Lisicki has eight forehand winners so far. Wozniacki, in case you were wondering, has zero. Forehand Winner number eight made it 30-15, but Lisicki’s 10th unforced error (to Wozniacki’s two) made it 30-all. An ace makes it 40-30, but a double fault makes it deuce. A great return by the Woz gives her a BP, but Lisicki has ample time to fire forehand winner number nine past her to save it. Two great serves then allow Lisicki to consolidate the break.
Wozniacki is now in serious trouble, since Lisicki managed to hold from the southern end, also known as the one with the sun.
4:2, Lisicki: At 30-15, Wozniacki had a rally forehand which she bizarrely sent to Lisicki’s forehand corner. Guess what happened. 30-all. Lisicki gets a look at another forehand and blasts it cross court, coming in behind it to put away the simple volley. Break Point. Lisicki kills another Wozniacki second serve, and Woz can’t defend it as well as she usually does. Too much power, and it’s 5-2.
Wozniacki probably waved goodbye to this set at this point. She couldn’t break Lisicki when the German was serving against the sun, and now she got broken serving from the “nice” end. Lisicki will try to serve out the first set from the most comfortable side of the court. And if she fails, Wozniacki will have to serve with the sun in her face.
5:2, Lisicki: A service winner makes it 40-15, but yet another backhand unforced error by Lisicki erases that first set point. However, a good serve results in a short reply, and while Wozniacki has a shot at a pass, it tamely finds the net. First set to Lisicki.
Wozniacki hit seven winners and only two unforced errors in that first set. Yet she lost it 6-2. That’s as problematic as it comes. The other issue? She served only 50% of first serves, and won only four of 13 second serve points. That’s the killer. Here are your first set stats:
Second Set, Wozniacki will serve first:
0:0: Lisicki starts this set with some slack returning, given that Wozniacki is serving with the sun in her eyes. She misses more than a few, and Wozniacki holds to 15. That might turn out to be important later, or immediately, since Lisicki now has to serve from the nasty end.
1:0, Wozniacki: Wozniacki has come out as if the first set didn’t happen at all: she gets some good returns in play, and wisely lets Lisicki hit a forehand on the run, where she’s less dangerous. 0-40 in a breeze. Lisicki goes for a backhand down-the-line winner (strange decision), and surprise, surprise, she misses and gets broken at love.
If you’re playing a top 10 player, and particularly one that was ranked No. 1 once, you can’t take off the foot off the gas pedal at the beginning of a set, particularly after you’ve won the previous one. It’s such a common mistake among those who are trying to produce the upset. You. Cannot. Lose. Your. Focus. The higher-ranked player will rarely toss a match after just one set. You can’t let them off the hook.
2:0, Wozniacki: Lisicki tries to lob Wozniacki at 15-30, but Woz smashes it away comfortably. 30-all. Two more Lisicki errors, and Wozniacki has consolidated her break.
3:0, Wozniacki: Wozniacki now in a groove when returning – she’s getting a lot of depth on her returns, and Lisicki isn’t known for quickness of feet. Two very good returns from 30-all onward give the former No. 1 a second break.
This set is flying by. Lisicki’s mistake was being so casual during Wozniacki’s first return game. That was the little snowball that has become a very large, two-break ball of slush right now.
4:0, Wozniacki: Back to serving from the dreaded southern end, Wozniacki hits two straight double-faults and is down 0-40. Lisicki bottled what looked like a very soft serve, but she then goes on the attack and gets the break after a most deft angled forehand winner. That was pretty, and she’s given herself some life in this set.
Has Wozniacki just done what Hewitt did yesterday – lose a set after being up two breaks? Who knows. But the good news for her is that Lisicki has to serve from the dreaded southern end right now, so she can very well get that second break right back.
4:1, Wozniacki: Wozniacki insinuates some moonballing to great success, but misses a return that gives Lisicki a chance to hold to 30. Which she does after another service winner.
Crucial hold from the southern end. If Lisicki can get the break now, Wozniacki will be in serious danger, since she’ll have to serve from the end of the court that has seen only one Wozniacki hold.
4:2, Wozniacki: Lisicki blasts a backhand down-the-line after doing a lot of running around, and surprise, surprise, SHE DOESN’T MISS! It’s 30-all. Huge point coming up, and it’ll start with a Wozniacki second serve. Lisicki runs around her backhand, goes for a brutal return, and misses it long. Here’s something else Lisicki missed long: another backhand. Huge hold for Wozniacki.
In that last game, Lisicki had a makeable volley that she botched, along with a second serve return and regulation backhand. Those three errors might end up costing her the set.
Our friend Hannah Wilks agrees:
Lisicki rather let Wozniacki off the hook there.
— Hannah Wilks (@newballsplease) January 15, 2013
5:2, Wozniacki: Lisicki races to a 40-0 in about 30 seconds. All winners, too. Wozniacki stops the momentum with a great return that sets up an easy overhead. 40-15. Another great return, and it’s 40-30. Lisicki might want to serve to Wozniacki’s forehand here. Incredibly, Lisicki holds after a cross court backhand winner. I’m as surprised as you are.
Now comes the real test for Wozniacki: she’s only held serve once from the southern end, and Lisicki is now fully engaged, unlike that first game of this second set. Huge test.
5:3, Wozniacki: Forehand winner number 16 comes for Lisicki in the first point, but a forehand error follows it. 15-all. Ridiculous inside-out backhand return winner (!!!!!), and it’s 15-30. ANOTHER RIDICULOUS CROSS COURT BACKHAND WINNER FROM LISICKI. 15-40. I’m beyond confused. But now I’m not – Lisicki sends a tame backhand into the net. 30-40. Now a costly error: Lisicki has a very good look at a forehand from the middle of the court, goes for the sideline, and misses by about two feet. Huge miss. Deuce. With a botched service return, Wozniacki has a set point, which is emphatically erased by forehand winner number 17 off a putrid second serve by Wozniacki. Deuce number two. Lisicki just played two very smart backhands: a loopy cross court one, and then a thumping down-the-line backhand that forced the error. This is bizarre. Break Point. She then has another easy forehand from the middle of the court, goes for the other sideline, and misses again. It’s amazing how many chances Lisicki is essentially setting on fire. Lisicki then fires one of the most incredible forehands she’s hit, is left with the EASIEST of putaways near the net, and misses. The set point is erased by another hard forehand up the middle that jams Wozniacki. Deuce number three. An unlikely ace from Wozniacki gives her a third set point, and Lisicki yet again misses a simple putaway from near the net.
Lisicki … is killing me. She had so many chances to even that set. So many horrible errors on so many big points. Oy.
Still, credit to Wozniacki for coming out with the right attitude at the start of the set, and for trying to stay with Lisicki even though she’s getting destroyed from the back of the court. She’s fighting, alright.
Third Set, Lisicki will serve first:
Lisicki took a bathroom break, and Wozniacki is out there doing practice swings.
0:0: Lisicki with a fantastic forehand lob over Wozniacki for 30-0. She’s serving from the southern end, so holding serve here is absolutely key. A forehand error from her makes it 30-15. Wozniacki bails her out with a simply horrible forehand unforced error. 40-15. The pair have a cat-and-mouse game at net, and Lisicki comes up with the huge hold. Almost counts for two games, given the issues with the sun.
Early crunch-time for Wozniacki, since the women switched ends and it’ll be Woz who has to serve into the sun right now.
Alison Lang takes no prisoners. RT @4allsurfaces: Sabine just told ump that Pitor won’t shut up. So she warned him….
— unseeded & looming (@unseededlooming) January 15, 2013
1:0, Lisicki: Lisicki goes for a return winner successfully, and it’s 15-30, and then plays a patient point (!!!!!) to force Wozniacki’s error. 15-40. Of course, she then gets a look at a second serve, and blasts the ball into oblivion. Sadly for her, she misses. 30-40. But then she comes up with an ridiculous cross court backhand winner after Wozniacki leaves a shot hanging, and she breaks.
Each of those Lisicki backhand winners makes me feel a little drunk. And I’m not even drinking.
Caroline Wozniacki had 6 winners in the first 3 games. Just 5 in the 16 games since. Trails Lisicki 2-0 in the third. #ausopen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 15, 2013
2:0, Lisicki:: Lisicki comes up with a freaking absurd running forehand cross court after Wozniacki had hit a beautiful down-the-line backhand. That was ridiculous. 40-30. Forehand winner number who knows for the key hold.
It’s simple for Wozniacki: she cannot lose her serve from the “nice” side of the court. She just can’t. Because the next time she serves, it’ll be with the sun in her eyes, and she’s only held once in those conditions.
3:0, Lisicki:: Wozniacki got the memo, because she goes up 40-0 in no time. However, Lisicki hammers another backhand down-the-line (!) and puts away the resulting volley. 40-15. But a service winner gives the Woz a key service hold.
Now, if Wozniacki is to have any semblance of a chance in this match, she absolutely HAS to break Lisicki here. Because of the sun thing I’ve mentioned 492480592589250825 times.
3:1, Lisicki:: Lisicki just hit a most stunning angled forehand on the run for 15-all. A simply beautiful shot. Then she nets a regulation backhand. 15-30. Another backhand error, and it’s 15-40. Lisicki completes the Full Lisicki Experience by double faulting away the break.
Wozniacki will serve from the bad side of the court now. She holds serve, she has a huge chance to win the match. She loses serve, and that might be the end of her Australian Open. No pressure!
3:2, Lisicki:: Two cheap Lisicki errors, and it’s 30-0 for Wozniacki. Another one, and it’s 40-0. I’m not sure Lisicki is aware of just how key it is for her to break here. Or maybe she does, because she just pummeled a return winner past Wozniacki. 40-15. But another bad Lisicki backhand error gives the ultra-crucial hold for Wozniacki.
That was only the third time Wozniacki has held serve from that end of the court in this match. Lisicki seems to have gone into one of her trademark lulls, so this match might be over quickly.
3:3: Three straight bad errors and it’s 0-40. Serving from the “nice” side of the court, mind you. Of course, she saves the first break point with a backhand down-the-line winner. And the second one with another great backhand down-the-line. She’s trolling me. She really is. 30-40. I fully expect a double fault now. Nope – she puts away a swinging volley. Deuce. But now Lisicki goes for an ambitious inside-out BH (!!!!!!!), and misses, naturally. Break point again for Wozniacki. The Dane leaves a return hanging around the service line, Lisicki moves forward to pummel the shot with her forehand, her best shot, and misses.
By about four feet. Sabine Lisicki, everybody! That should be the match for her: she’s lost the plot, and failed to break Wozniacki when the Woz was serving with the sun in her face, and failed to hold from the “nice” side of the court. An epic, epic fail. Now Wozniacki has two games on the nice side of the court. This should be the match, I think.
4:3, Wozniacki: That was just a trainwreck for Lisicki. There was an attempt to moonball that landed out, and there was a smash that missed by about two nautical miles. I’m laughing and shaking my head. Love hold for the Woz.
5:3, Wozniacki: Two straight errors (one a double fault), and it’s 0-30. A forehand of hers clips the net, and lands just wide. 0-40, triple match point for Wozniacki. The first one is saved by a powerful cross court backhand. Yeah, right. The next match point isn’t saved, when yet another Lisicki backhand finds the net.
Wozniacki completes the comeback, and wins 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. She won the last six games. Six straight games, in a deciding set. That’s … remarkable.
— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) January 15, 2013
Here are the match stats:
Honestly, I don’t think I can add anything new to what everybody saw and to what I wrote above. What a mess. Lisicki is such a mess. She has Slam-winning talent, but I’m not sure she’ll even make a final, given the problems with her backhand and her “ideas” about point construction. Most of all, she just can’t win anything big if she can’t impose herself over someone she’s manhandling, like today. And she can’t win anything big by making so many silly mistakes on key points. That’s it, really.
The problem is, how do you fix that last problem? How do you make a player avoid horrible errors in critical points? You can’t rehearse that in practice, sadly.
About Wozniacki, sure, congratulations are due to her for fighting so hard and finding ways to stay in the match (those ways were almost embarrassingly simple at points – just keep the ball in play, no matter the angle, no matter the direction). But I did not learn anything new about Piotr’s daughter today. She still seemed completely overmatched during most of the points, and the top women in the game won’t be nearly as forgiving as Lisicki was.
My brain hurts, so I’ll just end it here.