Sabine Lisicki kicks off New Haven Open with a victory

Sabine Lisicki bounced Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-1 in the opening match of the New Haven Open.
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-1 on Sunday to begin play at the New Haven Open.

The match was the first in the main draw. The top seeds take the court Monday and Tuesday.

Lisicki, from Germany, lost a 2-0 lead in the first set, but never trailed against the Frenchwoman and won the first five games of the second set, which was interrupted by a brief rain delay.

Lisicki was little known before Wimbledon, where she lost to Marion Bartoli in the final. But, Lisicki is one of the bigger names in this tournament.

"It's been quite a change, going home and everyone on the streets knows who you are,'' she said, "It is something different, but it's been nice, because it shows that the hard work pays off.''

Just four of the top-10 players in the world are participating in the final tuneup before the U.S. Open.

Top-seed Sara Errani is joined by Angelique Kerber, defending champion Petra Kvitova, and Caroline Wozniacki, who is looking for her fifth New Haven title in six years.

Bartoli would have been the fifth, but withdrew after announcing her retirement last week.

"She fulfilled her dream,'' Lisicki said. "She wanted to win Wimbledon her entire life and she did that. So, I'm very happy for her.''

Wozniacki, a former No. 1 player, in the world was in danger of falling out of the WTA's top 10 before making it to the quarterfinals last week in Cincinnati.

Now, she's hoping to build on that momentum in Connecticut, where she is 20-1. The lone loss came when she was forced to withdraw from last year's semifinals with a knee injury.

"I feel like I'm on the right track and I feel like I'm playing well, so right now that's what I'm thinking about,'' she said Sunday. "The U.S. Open is coming up as well, which is a tournament that I am looking very much forward to. I love it there. So, these two tournaments, hopefully, will be good for me.''

Wozniacki, the fourth seed this year, opens play Monday against Shuai Peng of China.

The Dane has a history that brings her back each year to New Haven, but many of her competitors are simply looking to get in a few more hard-court matches in before heading to the National Tennis Center, which is just 73 miles away.

"I love to compete, to play tournaments,'' Errani said. "It will be a week to prepare for New York, practicing also, playing matches. Why not? If it's going good you have more confidence. If it's going bad, you go early to New York.''

The danger, of course, is that an injury could affect a player's chances next week. Wozniacki, playing last year on a gimpy knee after her injury here, lost in the first round in New York.

She said that Bartoli's retirement due to nagging injuries points to just how careful players need to be when putting together what can be a grueling tour schedule.

"That's why you need really good recovery. You need good treatments and do a lot of fitness, because you need to protect your body from all that hammering that it gets,'' Wozniacki said. "I always laugh about it now, because the day I wake up and nothing hurts, I should be a little bit scared. Because it might mean that I'm dead.''

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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