Top seed victorious, but not without a struggle

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 05/01/2012

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Yesterday should have been the day where the cream rose to the top and the ASB Classic's favourites showed their class.

But that wasn't the case of top seed and world No15 Sabine Lisicki, who struggled to overcome fellow German Mona Barthel.

While Barthel is a handy player and a fighter, her ranking of 69 is a good enough indicator on how comfortably Lisicki should have won this match.

But instead Lisicki struggled throughout, making a whopping 66 unforced errors, and her powerful first serve was awry in the 7-6 3-6 6-3 victory.

However, Lisicki made a fair point when she said winning when not playing well was a mark of success. It was something second seed Peng Shuai failed to do, getting knocked out 4-6 3-6 by Lucie Hradecka, from the Czech Republic.

"The most important thing is when you're not playing your best tennis to still find a way to win," said Lisicki, who plays Angelique Kerber in one of today's quarterfinals.

"I improved on my last match, I knew I had to to win, but I still didn't play consistent enough to win in two sets.

"I didn't go to the net at the right time at times, but that's fine, I'm still improving. My goal is to be better and get to the top in the tennis world, sometimes you have to sacrifice and I'm not perfect."

On the outside courts the first seed fell yesterday when sixth-seeded Roberta Vinci, from Italy, went down 3-6 4-6 to Russian Elena Vesnina.

Vesnina will play the fourth seed Flavia Pannetta, also from Italy, in today's quarterfinals.

Pannetta beat Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-4 6-2 on court four earlier in the day and, unlike Lisicki, she has discovered her form early in the year.

"It was a good match, it was better than my first day and I'm happy to get through this match," Pannetta said.

"It wasn't easy and she is a good player. I was ready for a fight and in the end the second set was easier than the first, although I think I did play better."

Also on court four yesterday the last Kiwi bowed out of the classic with 16-year-old Emily Fanning and her Russian partner, Regina Kulikova, losing to second seeds Goerges and Pannetta 2-6 3-6.

It means that all four matches involving New Zealanders at this year's tournament resulted in overseas wins.

Meanwhile, for next week's Heineken Open the last remaining wildcard has been given to American Sam Querrey, rather than Kiwi Artem Sitak.

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- Wellington

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