Lisicki salvages German pride
Sabine Lisicki salvaged pride for hosts Germany by reaching the second round of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Tuesday after Andrea Petkovic and qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier went out..
Lisicki, a former number 12 who has dropped to a current 47 ranking, made short work of Italian qualifier Nastassja Burnett, 6-3, 6-4.
Injury-plagued Petkovic crashed 6-3, 6-2 against former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic while the youngster Pfizenmaier gave ex Stuttgart winner Nadia Petrova a fight before going down 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
"It is all about experience. She played very well and I had to fight until the end," Petrova said.
Petrova, 30, won the Stuttgart event in 2006 when it was held in autumn on hard court. It is now played in spring on clay as one of the first major tune-up for the French Open starting in late May.
Lisicki plays either Samantha Stosur or 2008 champion Jelena Jankovic, while Petrova takes on Ivanovic, who won the Paris grand slam in 2008 and was also world No 1 that year.
She has gone through difficult times later and is currently ranked 17th, while Petkovic has plunged to 131 after suffering through three injuries in the past 16 months, her lack of matches showing in Tuesday's defeat in 72 minutes.
"I have improved my game a lot (in training) but lack consistency. I wanted a lot, realised I could beat her but overpaced," the former top 10 player Petkovic said.
Ivanovic said: "I am thrilled to be through. I hope I can continue this way."
Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic Baroni ousted Russian Elena Vesnina 6-0, 6-4 and now meets second seed Li Na.
Seven players from the current top 10 have gathered in Germany, led by title holder and reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova, the 2011 Roland Garros winner Li, local hope Angelique Kerber, and the 2012 Paris grand slam runner-up Sara Errani - who all have a first-round bye.
Errani, 26, arrived in Stuttgart a day later than planned after Italy's rain-delayed Fed Cup semifinal triumph against two-time reigning champions Czech Republic on Monday.
"I am a bit tired but happy to be in the Fed Cup final (against Russia)," Errani told reporters.
The seventh-ranked Errani has already won on her favourite surface in Acapulco this year and hopes to further boost her morale ahead of the French Open.
Errani was a surprise finalist at Roland Garros last year despite three clay titles in the run-up, reached the US Open semis and has three grand slam doubles titles with compatriot Roberta Vinci.
"There is more pressure this year because of the ranking. But I am only thinking about my tennis," she said.
Errani could meet Li Na in the semis and Sharapova - who has won all of their four previous meetings, including the 2012 French Open final - in the final.
Coming off the Indian Wells title and Miami final, Sharapova is making her clay season debut. She hopes to be as dominant on the dirt as last year, when she triumphed in Stuttgart, Rome and Paris, the latter title completing a career grand slam.
"I want to get my feet into the groove (on clay)," the Russian said at a sponsor event Monday. "I had a great season on clay last year, and got a lot of confidence (from the title) here."