LONDON (Reuters) - Installed by bookmakers as the favorite to win Wimbledon and a first grand slam title after stunning holder Serena Williams in the last 16 on Monday, Sabine Lisicki flashed a winning smile that belied any feelings of pressure.
“No, not at all,” the relaxed German told a news conference when asked if she was fazed by the prospect of being the woman to beat after contributing to the exodus of top seeds at this year’s tournament with a 6-2 1-6 6-4 upset of the five-times champion on Monday.
“I’m already focused for tomorrow,” the 23rd seed said of her last eight showdown with Estonian Kaia Kanepi.
The 23-year-old’s career has been checked by injury - she dropped outside the world’s top 200 in 2011 - but her pedigree on a grasscourt has never been in doubt.
A Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2009 and last year, and a semi-finalist as a wildcard in 2012 when Maria Sharapova ended her storming run, Lisicki has a game built for the slick green surface.
One of the fastest servers on tour, Lisicki’s Wimbledon record contrasts markedly with her performances in the three other grand slams.
She has a 17-4 record in singles at the All-England club compared to 16-15 at the Australian, French and U.S. Opens.
“I feel very comfortable here. Having the house, having the whole team being in the house, being able to cook, having a great atmosphere,” Lisicki explained.
“Then obviously playing on grass, as well, which suits my game well.”
Lisicki has now dispatched three grand slam winners in former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, former U.S. Open winner Samantha Stosur and Williams in this year’s championship, and she believes she is improving with each round.
“I’ve got more and more confident ‑ with my strokes, as well as my game,” she said.
“I think in a way those three matches prepared me for today’s match.
“I have a very good rhythm. I think before the tournament I started to serve really well already in Birmingham (warm-up tournament). I think I found my rhythm again. I hope I can keep it up.”
A growing sign of maturity came when she refused to buckle at 3-0 down in the deciding set after Williams profited from two successive net-cords.
“I just hung in there. I really wanted to win it,” she said.
Editing by Ed Osmond