Wimbledon entered the twilight zone on Monday as Serena Williams became the latest high-profile champion to fade into oblivion at a tournament where reputations and star status are counting for nothing.
Just when it seemed that this years grasscourt major had exhausted its quota of shocks with Grand Slam champions Rafa Nadal,Roger Federer,Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka all blotted out of the draw by the second round,along came Sabine Lisicki.
The German,playing a brand of fearless tennis,jettisoned American holder Williams 6-2 1-6 6-4 to leave Wimbledon gasping in disbelief once again.
Im still shaking,Im so happy, gulped a tearful Lisicki,who fell flat on her stomach in her moment of triumph. Its amazing,I love this court so much. Its unbelievable!
It certainly was unbelievable because even before the first-week exodus of big names,top seed Williams had been the overwhelming favourite to win a sixth title having triumphed at three of the last four majors. She also walked on court on a 34-match winning streak but her exit left world number four Agnieszka Radwanska as the highest seed and Czech Petra Kvitova as the only former champion still alive in the womens draw.
Its not a shock. I didnt do what I do best, summed up Williams who won nine games on the trot to take a 3-0 lead in the final set. Sabine was on today. Shes always on against big players and big courts. She just has a super,super game to play well on grass, added Williams.
Mens second seed Andy Murray is another player who feels at home on the lush green turf and he survived a second-set wobble to take care of Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-4 7-6(5) 6-1.
Eighth seed Kvitova dispatched Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6(5)6-3 to set up a last-eight meeting with Belgian Kirsten Flipkens and Radwanska made it a good day for Poland by outlasting Bulgarias Tsvetana Pironkova 4-6 6-3 6-3.
Williams downfall also meant that Sloane Stephens was the only American,man or woman,to reach the quarter-finals. The 20-year-old lived up to her potential by beating Puerto Rican teenager Monica Puig 4-6 7-5 6-1.
DAMAGE ON GRASS
At the other end of the age spectrum,Li Na proved that 31-year-olds can still do damage on grass by thrashing Italian 11th seed Roberta Vinci 6-2 6-0.
Day seven at Wimbledon is unique as it is the only one of the four Grand Slams to schedule 16 fourth-round showdowns both in men and womens singles on the same day.
But after a week of seismic shocks left the draw shorn of house-hold names,it was a case of guess who for the fans who wandered around the outside courts. Lukasz Kubot v Adrian Mannarino on Court 14? Oh its a couple of nobodies!, quipped one spectator as he craned his neck to see the names on the on court scoreboard.
Had the fan stuck around to the end of the match,he would have caught sight of Kubot doing his bizarre can-can victory jig following an absorbing 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 win over Frenchman Mannarino.
The nation that boasts Radwanska as a Wimbledon finalist will have one man in the last four after Kubot set up an unlikely last-eight date with 6-foot-8 Jerzy Janowicz who blasted down 16 aces to edge past Juergen Melzer 3-6 7-6 6-4 4-6 6-4.
Britain had also been anticipating a double celebration as for the first time since 1998,home interest was still alive in both singles draws on the second Monday.
But hopes that U.S. Open winner Murray and Laura Robson would both reach the last eight were dashed when the 19-year-old Robson bowed out 7-6(6) 7-5 to Kaia Kanepi. Gentle giant Juan Martin Del Potro made it through to his first Wimbledon quarter-final and will face fourth seed David Ferrer.
Rohan Bopanna and Mahesh Bhupathi progressed to the quarterfinals of the mens doubles event with their respective partners even as Sania Mirza crashed out of the womens doubles competition.
Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France stunned the third seeded pair of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares to breeze into the mens doubles quarter-finals,while Bhupathi and Austrian Julian Knowle defeated Canadian combination of Jesse Levine and Vasek Pospisil.
The 14th seeded pair of Bopanna and Edouard shocked the fancied Austrian-Brazilian pair 6-4 4-6 6-7 (5) 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes. Eight seeded pair of Bhupathi and Knowle also had to play a four setter to get the better of unseeded Levine and Pospisil 6-2 6-4 3-6 6-4.
However,in the womens doubles competition as Sania and Liezel Huber exited in the third round. The sixth seeded Indo-American pair was shocked 2-6 6-3 2-6 by Japanese-South African combination of Shuko Aoyama and Chanelle Scheepers.