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Thu Apr 17 12:17:23 SAST 2014

Sharapova crashes out

Reuters, Sapa-AFP | 03 July, 2012 06:280 Comments
Sabine Lisicki of Germany hits a backhand return during her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova of Russia at Wimbledon yesterday. Lisicki shocked the No1 seed, winning in straight sets, 6-4 6-3
Image by: Paul Gilham / Gallo Images

THERE is a reason why no woman has won Wimbledon and French Open titles back-to-back for the past 10 years, as Maria Sharapova discovered yesterday when she became the latest to have tried and failed.

The world No1 was comprehensively beaten in the fourth round by Germany's Sabine Lisicki 6-4 6-3, three weeks after she won the French Open title.

Lisicki was launching big serves, unreturnable groundstrokes and racing round Wimbledon's Court One with vigorous energy; she was everything Sharapova had been in Paris, but not in London.

The result means the Russian is now in danger of losing her spot at the top of the rankings that she toiled to regain by reaching the final in the French Open.

Sharapova described completing the French Open-Wimbledon double - last achieved by Serena Williams in 2002 - as the toughest challenge in women's tennis, but was not offering any excuses.

"What I achieved a few weeks ago doesn't just go away in a few minutes," she said. "I'll have that for the rest of my career.

"The tennis world always keeps going. You have to raise your level at that point, even when your opponent plays really great tennis. Just today wasn't my day."

The German will now play compatriot Angelique Kerber, who dismantled Kim Clijsters 6-1 6-1 in the Belgian's farewell appearance at the Wimbledon championships.

In other women's results, fourth seed and defending champion Petra Kvitova beat Francesca Schiavone of Italy 4-6 7-5 6-1 and sixth seed Williams beat Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-1 2-6 7-5.

Roger Federer saluted the Wimbledon old boys club when five men aged over 30 featured in the fourth round, the highest number since 1975.

Federer, who turns 31 next month, defeated 31-year-old Belgian Xavier Malisse 7-6 (1) 6-1 4-6 6-3 to reach a 33rd successive grand slam quarterfinal and praised the longevity of his generation.

"We had a good generation. Think back 10 years ago when we were all coming through. My junior year back in 1998 was unbelievable," said Federer.

His opponent in the quarterfinals is Mikhail Youzhny, 30, whom he has defeated 13 times in 13 matches since their first meeting in 2000.

US's Mardy Fish and Spain's David Ferrer are the other two 30-year-old players in the last 16.

Wimbledon chiefs face a fixture backlog after heavy rain forced play to be abandoned on all but Centre Court.

That left five men's singles matches to be completed today, including world No4 Andy Murray's clash against Croatia's Marin Cilic, which had been called off with the Scot leading 7-5 3-1.

French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was trailing 6-4, 1-1 against Fish when play was suspended, while Richard Gasquet, the French 18th seed, was 6-3, 2-1 down against Germany's Florian Mayer.

The remaining men's last 16 matches - Ferrer against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and US's Brian Baker against German Philipp Kohlschreiber - were cancelled before play was able to start.

Defending men's champion, Novak Djokovic, took advantage of the Centre Court roof to progress to the quarterfinals with a 6-3 6-1 6-3 win over fellow Serb Viktor Troicki as rain fell outside.

All the women's last 16 matches were concluded, with second seed Victoria Azarenka crushing Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-0 in a match finished under the Centre Court roof.

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