Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki’s Australian Open campaign started out in brilliant fashion when she trounced veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2 6-1 in just over an hour on Monday.
On a warm evening on Show Court 2, the German smoked serves, hammered big returns and didn't allow the Croatian to get into any semblance of rhythm.
Normally a go-for-broke player, the 24-year-old Lisicki stood well inside the baseline, took balls early and tortured Lucic with blasts into the corners.
She ended the contest with 28 winners to just 11 for Lucic-Baroni, booming her seventh ace on the final point.
Three-time Australian Open champion Martina Hingis is coaching Lisicki at this tournament. The two are friendly, and Lisicki was said to have asked her to help out while she is in Melbourne.
While Lisicki is not as light-footed and cagey as the Swiss was during her career, she mixed up her attack more than usual on Monday and constantly moved forward, two styles that Hingis advocates.
The rapid-fire pace of the match favored Lisicki, as 104 of the points were four shots or less compared to just 20 which were five shots or more.
In her debut in Melbourne in 2008, the German won three rounds in qualifying, upset future No. 1 Dinara Safina and reached the third round, going down to another woman with Polish blood, Caroline Wozniacki, in three sets.
Her best result at the Australian Open came in 2012, when she took down two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round before falling to Maria Sharapova in the round of 16.
Last year, she came into the tournament unseeded and suffered a three-set loss to former No. 1 Wozniacki.
Armed with one of the tour’s biggest serves, when she is on, Lisicki can keep herself in almost any match, but she has had more success on grass than on other surfaces.
While Lisicki’s record at the hard court majors is spotty, she has been a very effective player at Wimbledon.
Last year at the All England Club, she took down a slew of standouts competitors including Aussie Sam Stosur, five-time champion Serena Williams and 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, before falling in the final to Marion Bartoli.
Lisicki, who pulled out of her second round match in Brisbane with an illness, appears to be fully recovered.
The 15th-seeded Lisicki will play Romania’s Monica Niculescu in the next round.