Sabine Lisicki has Serena Williams in her sights

LAINE CLARK
Last updated 06:19 25/12/2013

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Think being the local hope at the Australian Open is tough?

Then spare a thought for world No.15 Sabine Lisicki.

That time of year is again looming where Bernard Tomic, Lleyton Hewitt and company again come under the national microscope as Australia sweats on the grand slam's first home-grown champion since 1978.

And Lisicki reckons she can empathise with the likes of her former doubles partner Sam Stosur about the pressure that awaits in Melbourne next month.

Probably because the 24-year-old has to deal with that kind of expectation year-round in her native Germany thanks to the bar set by her compatriot, 22-time grand slam winner Steffi Graf.

Not that it seems to be holding her back.

Lisicki is best remembered this year for toppling red-hot favourite Serena Williams before suffering stage fright in her Wimbledon final loss to French veteran Marion Bartoli.

Despite her tearful All England Club exit, Lisicki had announced herself as a force to be reckoned with after becoming the first German to reach the Wimbledon final since Graf in 1999.

But as she prepared for her Australian Open warm-up - the Brisbane International starting this weekend - Lisicki admitted living in Graf's shadow was as tough as ever.

"There always has been. I don't know any different," she said on Tuesday.

"She (Graf) won so many grand slams, she was such an amazing player - the yardstick is so high now and anything below that is not good enough.

"I grew up like that but I put the most pressure on myself."

And that looks set to provide ample motivation for the Australian Open after her Wimbledon choke.

"It was a huge achievement to be so close to realising a dream," Lisicki said of Wimbledon.

"It was a learning experience.

"I am a much stronger person on the court now."

That may sound alarm bells for Williams ahead of what would be an intriguing re-match at the Brisbane International.

Lisicki said she did not fear anyone after becoming one of only a handful of players to down the 17-time grand slam champion in 2013.

"I have respect for the player but as soon as I am on the court I want to win, no matter who is on the other side," she said.

"You still have to play your best tennis to beat her (Williams), but it gave me a lot of confidence to beat Serena, especially at Wimbledon where she was the favourite.

"You live for those moments."

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- AAP

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