Eventful Few Weeks for Lisicki

Monique Filippella

It’s been an eventful few weeks for Sabine Lisicki. She played in two of the biggest events on the WTA tour in Madrid and Rome. We also saw a new coach come on board. There was also some controversy with her ex.

It started well in Madrid with Sabine beating Monica Puig in her opening match to move to 2-0 against the Puerto Rican. Sabine played a good match and Monica made some poor errors. It’s a favorable matchup for Sabine and she took advantage. In the next round Sabine took on Carla Suarez Navarro. Carla was sick. She frequently drank water between points. Sabine couldn’t take advantage, as Carla played well. It’s a shame Sabine couldn’t play better against a player who wasn’t feeling well. Worse, it wasn’t even a close match. Sabine only won 5 games. It was the best player Sabine has faced this year though, with Carla being ranked 11th in the world. Previously, the highest ranked player Sabine faced this year was Svetlana Kuznetsova in Sydney.

Today Sabine faced Daria Gavrilova in Rome. Sabine won their previous meeting via retirement with Daria having an abdominal strain. Today was a different story though. Daria came out strong and won the opening set 6-1. Sabine started the second set off well, taking a 3-0 lead. Daria fought back and served for the match at 5-4, but Sabine broke to love and they went to a tiebreak. Down 3-5, Sabine hit a double fault. Daria then served the match out on the next point.

It’s another tough loss to swallow this season. It’s another mid-ranked player that Sabine is much better than. It’s starting to get hard watching her lose all these winnable matches. I’ve written how I expected this clay season to be tough, but it doesn’t make it any easier when you see your favorite player, that you’re extremely passionate about, lose and be in such poor form. It’s gone on all season. Ten tournaments in and she’s 6-10 with multiple wins at only one of those tournaments. In the biggest events she’s not even drawing that good of players and yet she still can’t win. It’s all really tragic.

I’m taking this Rome loss hard. She made the second round last year, which means she lost out on those 60 points and her ranking will likely fall out of the top 50. A win easily would have kept her in the top 50. It also would’ve kept her close to Annika Beck for that last German Olympic position. It hurts her chances of getting into the main draw of the Premier 5’s during the US Open series. It’s like these things don’t even motivate her. There’s no fire in her to be found. I mentioned the double fault at 3-5 in the tiebreak earlier, in that situation the other player should be tight, not the one two points away from losing the match. She has so little confidence right now that every little thing is difficult. It’s only getting worse too, not better. Her last three losses have all been in straight sets, after only have one such of those defeats in her first seven losses of the season.

Navarro during coaching Sabine vs Gavrilova

In Charleston, we saw Sabine’s father in her box. In Madrid, he was the only one in her box. Then Sabine shared the news that she is no longer working with Christopher Kas. From the start I wasn’t in favor of this partnership. I thought it was a comfortable move for her with them being friends. He was a doubles player, what could he do for her singles?

It’s tough to see him go though. I like Chris. He’s a good guy. He did all her could to help Sabine. He was so positive. I’ll never forget Sabine saying as such through laughs in an interview in Indian Wells. Another big moment was after Sabine beat Strycova and he told her how she put all her heart into the match and that’s what he’s been wanting her to do. Even though it didn’t work out so well, it was a tough job, especially this year coming off Sabine’s knee injury. I’m grateful he devoted so much time to Sabine. He was at every tournament it seems like. That must’ve been difficult as a father. I hope he’s taking it well. I hope his future is bright and he’s able to do and accomplish what he wants to.

Sabine’s new coach seems to be Salvador Navarro, who was Flavia Pennetta’s coach. She hasn’t officially announced it, but he did the on court coaching in her match vs Daria today. Sabine has liked a tweet saying that he’s her new coach and tagged him in a picture she tweeted of Flavia Pennetta. It will take me seeing him in Nurnberg or Roland Garros though for me to officially believe it, since he’s Italian. For him to be her coach at an Italian tournament is one thing, but to see him at other tournaments will confirm it for me. She didn’t announce any terms of it, so it’s hard to know for sure if it’s a one tournament thing, a few months, or the rest of the year and beyond. We’ll see.

I liked Flavia. She was a great player. Tough to play against. She was a fighter. A lot of that was probably just who she was and had nothing to do with her coach. I’d like to believe something rubbed off on her though from Salvador. I don’t know a lot about him. I think he is a great fit for Sabine though. This is the best coach Sabine has had since Wim Fissette. The best track record and results as a coach. I liked what he told Sabine in her on court coaching in today’s match. He told her how she needed to gain rhythm and not go for winners right away, but to try to hit a few shots and wait until she’s in good position. To not take so much risk by defending cross court, rather than down the line. He also gave her advice on her serve toss by telling her she’s throwing it too far ahead of her and to go more straight up with it. I love actually being able to understand what’s going on in these coaching sessions! That may be my favorite part of Salvador being the new coach.

Sabine’s ex boyfriend made some comments about Sabine on Twitter. He quoted her tweet wishing her father a Happy Father’s Day, which sounded like her was inferring that he was her daddy. Then he replied to her tweet about getting a new coach and management by saying that she needs to train harder and use less hashtags. Also mentioning that a new coach and her parents won’t solve her problems. Without a doubt this was wrong of him to post. He’s getting too personal. Is he wrong though? No.

Here’s a guy who has been behind the scenes with the team and seen what work is being and not being done. He has some credibility. Even more so because there’s been questions about these things with Sabine and no results to prove otherwise. That’s why these remarks can’t just be completely discredited. He may be telling the truth. (I should mention that I’m mostly referring to the comment about her not training as much as she should). Of course he also may just be taking a shot at the woman who dumped him, weeks after she did so. Guys usually start to take ended relationships easier at first then harder as time goes on. That may be why we’re seeing him starting to tweet at her.

Bottom line though, no matter if what he says could have some merit, it’s wrong of him to be doing this. The first tweet was strike one. The second tweet was strike two. It showed that it wasn’t just a one time thing. You can kind of ignore the first one, but then when it keeps up, you have to step in and defend her, which is what will start happening if another tweet comes out about her. It’ll be strike three. Sabine had to be given the chance to block him first, which two tweets gives her the chance to do. Next time he’ll be crossing the line. Hopefully there is no next time and Sabine has blocked him. Team Lisicki will be ready to come to her defense if need be.

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