Women’s world number one Maria Sharapova crashed out of Wimbledon, while four-time winner Serena Williams and defending champion Petra Kvitova survived major scares to reach the quarter-finals.
Sharapova had been a finalist in three of the last four Grand Slams, and arrived at Wimbledon on a high after winning the French Open for the first time last month.
But the top seed came back down to earth with a bump on Court One as German 15th-seed Sabine Lisicki avenged last year’s Wimbledon semi-final defeat against the Russian with a 6-4, 6-3 fourth-round victory.
“She did many things better than I did and you have to hand it to her,” said Sharapova. “She played very well. I could have done things differently but not on this particular day.”
Lisicki had lost in the first round of her last four tournaments, but hit form at the right time and the 22-year-old’s reward is a last-eight meeting with compatriot and eighth-seed Angelique Kerber, who beat Kim Clijsters 6-1, 6-1.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Lisicki. “I’m so happy. I had lost the last three meetings with her, so it’s nice to finally win one. I just went for my shots out there.
“I’m a fighter and I fight to the last game. I think I’m getting better with each match.”
Serena edges out Shvedova
On the other hand, American sixth-seed Serena narrowly avoided the same fate as Sharapova as she dug deep to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 on Court Two.
Serena looked set to cruise through as she took the first set in emphatic fashion, but Kazakh wildcard Shvedova responded impressively to force the American to a final set.
However, Serena showed why she is a 13-time Grand Slam champion as she finally subdued her gritty opponent to set up a fascinating last-eight clash with Kvitova.
Kvitova, who defeated Sharapova in last year’s Wimbledon final to clinch her first Grand Slam title, had romped through the first week, dropping just 13 games.
But she had cause for concern in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over Italian 24th-seed Francesca Schiavone.
Meanwhile, Polish third-seed Agnieszka Radwanska completed a bad day for Italian tennis as she cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win over qualifier Camila Giorgi.
Federer reaches last-eight
In the men’s singles, six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer survived severe back pain and beat Xavier Malisse 7-6 (7/1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to reach a 33rd successive Grand Slam quarter-final.
The Swiss great will face Russian 26th-seed Mikhail Youzhny for a place in the last-four.
“I love the drama. I knew the whole time I could play better. If I couldn’t do better that would be a problem. You know me, I’m never satisfied.”
“I was in a lot of pain. The treatment and the pain-killers worked. I was in big trouble at 5-6 and he was serving for the first set. I apologised to Xavier for having to go off.”
“I’m the defending champion. I will try to play my best in the second week. Without pressure it’s boring. If you are playing very well you need the pressure.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2012.
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