18/04/2016 – Timea Babos took out hometown favorite Sabine Lisicki to snap a seven match losing streak on clay courts, beating the German in straight sets.
(WWW.WTATENNIS.COM) Fast-rising Timea Babos edged through a tense opening set and survived a late surge from Sabine Lisicki to defeat the German, 7:6 (4), 6:3.
“I was really happy to play a night match on Center Court, especially after the opening ceremony,” Babos told press after the match. “I took it as a good chance; I knew I had to play solid against Sabine. She’s had many good results and is in front of her home crowd, so I tried to stay focused and solid.
Serving first throughout the match, Babos applied plenty of pressure to the Lisicki return from the start, earning the first break to take a 5:3 lead in the opening set. Despite failing to serve it out in the tenth game, Babos held firm to take the first set in a tie-break.
“I’m here with my fitness coach now, and he said I didn’t move so well!” Babos joked when asked about what she could have improved. “It’s my first match on clay since the French Open, so I have to adapt. It helps that it’s still indoors; it helps my serve. With the movement, it needs some adjustment. I grew up on clay, and I like clay, so there is no problem, but I need more time to get used to the movement.”
Lisicki dug an even deeper hole in the second set, but nearly pulled off a Houdini act for the ages; recovering from 1:5 down, she saved two match points before the Hungarian powerhouse sealed the match in just over 90 minutes.
“In the second set, she felt the match was going away from her and she started to punch the ball as hard as she could and started to serve even better, which is a huge weapon of hers.
“I’m happy that I was able to close it out at 5:3, because even at 5:1, I was doing only first serves and even some big serves and she ripped some winners.”
The tournament has had to deal with quite a few late arrivals thanks to a busy Fed Cup weekend, but Babos had her own reason for not getting to Stuttgart as early as she might have liked.
“I arrived last night; obviously I knew I was going to play today but I also had my five-year high school reunion on Saturday, so I wanted to attend that!”
Babos had a bright start on clay last year – reaching a final in Marrackech – only to lose her next seven matches on clay courts, despite taking out Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in doubles with Kristina Mladenovic in between. This season, she is in the midst of playing her most consistent singles of her career, reaching quarterfinals in Shenzhen, St. Petersburg, and Katowice. Reaching the round of 16 in Miami, she pushed reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber to three sets.
“I had a good start and an awful season! Last year was interesting because I played a lot better than what my results were, and I had to play a lot of qualies in the beginning of the season; I played eight tournaments in a row in qualifying. But everywhere I qualified, I lost early, so I was winning twice as many matches as I was losing but I couldn’t improve my ranking. I had a final on clay but then I didn’t play the way I should have, how I played in Marrackech. Then I got killed at the French Open by Angie [Kerber].
“This year, I was looking forward to it more; I’ve had some good results this year, and I improved my ranking a lot since the end of the season. I was one of the last to get here, and only wanted to play singles here, so I took it as a good opportunity. I tried to have fun and even with all the adjustments, I think it was a good start.”
Up next for the 22-year-old is No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, who beat her in the round of 16 at the Qatar Total Open.
Earlier in the day, World No.22 Johanna Konta fell at her first hurdle on clay courts; playing one of eight German women in the main draw at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, the Australian Open semifinalist fell to Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6:3, 6:3.
“I think that is always to be expected first match on clay,” the Brit said after the match. “I think it’s not easy for anyone. I think she did a better job than I did today dealing with the conditions. So, I’m happy I’m involved in doubles here. So, I’m looking forward to that, just all the matches I can get going into Roland Garros on the clay is an added bonus.
“This was my first match on clay since last year, so for about a year,” she added with a laugh. “So, I just need to go a little easy on myself and also keep looking forward and keep enjoying the challenge of continuously trying to improve.”