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GERMAN LISICKI WINS INAUGURAL PRUDENTIAL HONG KONG TENNIS OPEN

(Hong Kong, 14 September 2014) – Top seeded German Sabine Lisicki, a last-minute wild card, won the inaugural Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open defeating Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-3 in the final on Sunday.

Lisicki, world number 31, came back from 1-5 in the first set to win six games in a row and engineer a remarkable turnaround to win her first WTA title in over three years.

“It is unbelievable, especially as this was a last-minute decision to play in Hong Kong. It was a spontaneous decision and I’m grateful to Kenneth (Low, tournament director) for giving me a wild card,” Lisicki told a cheering capacity crowd at Victoria Park.

The 24-year-old German sank to her knees with a scream and pumped both fists in joy after she had served out the match and winning her championship point with a superb forehand passing shot.

It did seem an unbelievable comeback for Lisicki who trailed Pliskova in the first set with her serve in total disarray. It reached a crescendo in the fifth game when she double-faulted three times to gift the game to Pliskova.

But Pliskova, who had lost on both occasions the players had met in the past, including at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, suddenly lost her way serving for the set at 5-1. The world No. 36 shrank in confidence and dropped three service games in a row as the big-hitting Lisicki stormed back.

“I never give up,” said Lisicki. “I always fight and go for everything. When I was down my coach told me to just go for my shots and just keep fighting.”

Lisicki, who had beaten former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the semi-finals, led 4-1 in the second set but dropped her serve in the seventh game as Pliskova got the set back on serve at 4-3. But the 22-year-old third seed couldn’t make it count as Lisicki broke back immediately to go 5-3 in front and then served out the match.

“I’m so happy. I was in three finals last year losing all of them closely. This is my first WTA singles title in three years and I hope I can continue winning,” said Lisicki.

A crestfallen Pliskova said: “I was feeling quite good at the start but I won a couple of her service games very easily, almost without trying. But then she started to come back and it took a lot of energy out of me. I felt I had no power to play.”

The German almost lost in the opening round against Romanian Monica Niculesecu before escaping with a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 victory. She was then taken to three sets in the semi-finals by former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone before squeaking through.

Those results underlined the fighting spirit of Lisicki who had said previously in the week that she was inspired by the never-say-die fighting qualities showed by her country’s football team as they went on to win the World Cup this summer.

“I love to compete. I love playing in front of a crowd and giving them my best. Practice is nice but a crowd gives me so much of energy and I got that here,” said Lisicki.

Lisicki who will play three more tournaments in Asia – the next in Tokyo next week – picked up a winner’s purse of US$43,000 on her first visit to Hong Kong.

“I love Hong Kong. I went up to the peak and was inspired by the magnificent view from there. It is such a beautiful place and I would love to come back,” said the German.

There was some consolation for Pliskova when she won an enthralling doubles final partnered by her sister Kristyna. The Czech twins defeated Arina Rodionova of Australia and Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria 6-2, 2-6, 12-10.