Wimbledon’s grass claimed its most notable victim so far when women’s world No.2 Li Na exited the tournament and the lush lawns almost did for top men’s seed Novak Djokovic as he took an agonizing tumble.
Australian Open champion Li came up against fired-up Czech Barbara Zahlavova Strycova, who has never before advanced beyond the third round of a grand slam. The pair fought a tight two-hour-19-minute duel that could have gone either way, but the determined Czech held firmer in two tiebreaks to win 7-6(5) 7-6(5). China’s Li, the second seed, said she felt she had not had enough practice on grass coming in to the tournament.
“It’s not only about technique. I think sometimes I don’t know how to play the point, especially in the important moment. I think today I made a lot of mistakes.” Djokovic was cantering towards a regulation victory against Frenchman Gilles Simon on Center Court when, with the score at 6-4 6-2 3-2, he slipped before flinging himself at a forehand.
He fell heavily, appearing to jar his elbow, and was left wincing in pain as he rolled on the turf clutching his shoulder.
His coach Boris Becker, so demonstrative as a player, was a picture of calm inscrutability in the courtside box until Djokovic’s fall. The German three-time champion stood up, leaned forward and watched anxiously as his charge received treatment. After some shoulder manipulation by his chair, The Serb resumed as if nothing happened and finished off Simon 6-4 6-2 6-4 with a characteristically athletic airborne smash. “It was a sharp pain when I fell, an awkward fall,” the six-time grand slam champion said. “I was just hoping there is nothing going on with the joint.” The Serb will now meet France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Monday’s fourth round.
Scare for Halep
Women’s third seed Simona Halep suffered a less spectacular scare, dropping a set against unheralded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in a delayed second-round match. Halep, who has vaulted up the rankings over the past year and reached the French Open final this month, eventually saw off the world No.170 6-3 4-6 6-4, but not before throwing away two match points as she struggled with her nerves.
“You know, on grass it is not easy. Every match is difficult. You never know who will win or who will lose because of the court,” Halep said.
Battling Australian Leyton Hewitt bowed out of the tournament he had won in 2002, but not before giving 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz a thorough workout in a second-round match held over from Thursday. Pole Janowicz, who reached the semi-finals last year, prevailed 7-5 6-4 6-7(7) 4-6 6-3 and will meet Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the third round.
Former champion Petra Kvitova outlasted five-time winner Venus Williams 5-7, 7- 6 (2), 7-5 to move into the fourth round of Wimbledon Friday.
Kvitova, the 2011 champion, broke Williams for the first time in the final game to close out the 2 hour, 30-minute match on Centre Court. The left-handed Czech player had 11 aces and 48 winners. The 30th-seeded Williams had 29 winners. Williams, winner of seven Grand Slam titles, had lost in the first round in her last appearance at Wimbledon in 2012.
Women’s Singles Round 3: Petra Kvitova beat Venus Williams 5-7 7-6(2) 7-5; Agnieszka Radwanska beat Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-2 6-0; Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Li Na 7-6(5) 7-6(5); Caroline Wozniacki beat Ana Konjuh 6-3 6-0; Round 2: Simona Halep beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-3 4-6 6-4; Men’s Singles Round 3: Novak Djokovic beat Gilles Simon 6-4 6-2 6-4; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Jimmy Wang 6-2 6-2 7-5; Kevin Anderson beat Fabio Fognini 4-6 6-4 2-6 6-2 6-1; Round 2: Jerzy Janowicz beat Lleyton Hewitt 7-5 6-4 6-7(7) 4-6 6-3.