Defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic reached the last-16 with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over Czech 28th-seed Radek Stepanek yesterday.
Djokovic will face Serb compatriot Victor Troicki, who put out Argentine 15th-seed Juan Monaco 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 for a place in the quarter-finals.
Sharapova sinks Hsieh to set up Lisicki clash
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova cruised to a 6-1, 6-4 third-round victory over Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei on as the world number one set up a Wimbledon rematch with Sabine Lisicki.
Sharapova breezed past world number 63 Hsieh despite some serious issues with her serve in the windy conditions on Court One. The French Open champion’s reward for a typically gritty display is a last-16 meeting with German 15th-seed Lisicki in a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon semi-final clash which the Russian won in straight sets.
Hsieh became the first Taiwanese woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon in the Open era after beating Stephanie Foretz Gacon in the previous round. But the 26-year-old had only gone further in a grand slam once in her career – when she reached the last-16 at the 2008 Australian Open – and her hopes of emulating that feat against Sharapova always looked a long shot.
Lisicki survives Stephens test
Lisicki, meanwhile, remains on course to emulate last year’s shock run to the Wimbledon semi-finals as the German survived a tough test to defeat American teenager Sloane Stephens 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 6-2.
Lisicki has always thrived at Wimbledon, enjoying a memorable run to the last four as a wild-card last year and reaching the quarter-finals in 2009. She enjoyed shock wins over top 10 seeds Li Na and Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon 12 months ago and will relish a likely revenge mission in the fourth round next week.
Opportunity knocks for Murray after Nadal exit
Rafael Nadal’s nightmare on Centre Court was looking like Andy Murray’s dream Wimbledon scenario on Friday as the All England Club came to terms with one of the biggest shocks in its 126-year history.
World number two Nadal, the champion in 2008 and 2010, and 11 times a Grand Slam title winner, was knocked out of Wimbledon by world number 100 Lukas Rosol, 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in a Thursday night sensation. While the great Spaniard retreated to Mallorca to lick his wounds, Murray was suddenly enjoying a clear sight of a first Wimbledon final having seen his long-time nemesis knocked out.
For the last two years, Nadal had proved a bridge too far for the world number four, winning semi-finals in 2010 and 2011. Nadal had also won their quarter-final meeting in 2008.
But with Nadal out of the equation, the 25-year-old Briton can start planning realistically to become the first British finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938, even of becoming the country’s first champion since Fred Perry in 1936.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2012.
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