French Open champ Li upset by Lisicki at Wimbledon

Jun 23 2011 - 9:01pm


(KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/The Associated Press) France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga falls to the ground during a match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon on Thursday.
(KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/The Associated Press) France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga falls to the ground during a match against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon on Thursday.

WIMBLEDON, England -- After playing so well, so often, at this year's first two major tournaments, Li Na's run at Wimbledon came to an early end.

Only 2 1/2 weeks after giving China its first Grand Slam singles championship at the French Open, and five months after being the runner-up at the Australian Open, Li was knocked out in the second round at the All England Club on Thursday, the grass-court tournament's biggest upset so far.

The third-seeded Li wasted two match points and succumbed to the speedy serving of wild-card entry Sabine Lisicki of Germany in a 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 loss. Lisicki hit 17 aces, including one at 124 mph, which the WTA said is the fastest serve by a woman all season.

"I mean, (from) the first point 'til the end of the match, every serve was, like, around 117 miles (per hour)," said Li, 14-1 in Grand Slam play in 2011 before Thursday. "I mean, this is impossible for the women."

Elsewhere, Serena Williams again was pushed to three sets before winning, then complained a bit about having to play on Court 2 instead of Centre Court or Court 1; Roger Federer overwhelmed his opponent in straight sets, then basked in a standing ovation after playing under the retractable roof at the main stadium for the first time; and two-time French Open runner-up Robin Soderling came back after losing the first two sets to beat 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-7 (5), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

Li appeared headed to the third round, too. Leading 5-3 in the third set, she was a point away from victory while Lisicki served at 15-40. But Lisicki got out of that jam this way: 122 mph service winner, 123 mph service winner, 124 mph ace, 122 mph ace.

"Obviously, a good serve is important, but also, you have to use it well," the 62nd-ranked Lisicki said. "And I think I'm serving quite smart, as well. So it definitely helped me today."

Li became an instant star in China with her French Open title; more than 100 million people in the nation of 1 billion watched that final on TV. Li may not have been kidding when she asked reporters at Wimbledon not to write that she'd be flying home now, so there might be a chance to have some private time with her husband.

Even though her Grand Slam triumph came so recently, Li already could sense a change on court -- not in herself, but in other players.

"I didn't feel different. I didn't feel, like, pressure. I mean, (the) only change is, right now, opponents see you different," she said. "Everyone (who plays) against you, they feeling nothing to lose. So they can play (their) best tennis."

By the looks of things so far, Williams is going to face a true test every time she takes the court this year at Wimbledon, which she has won four times.

She was forced to a third set for the fourth consecutive match since returning to the tour after nearly a year away because of a series of health scares. And while she eventually seized control to beat Simona Halep of Romania 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, it's clear that Williams is still working her way into shape.

Some matches were halted in progress, including 122nd-ranked Ryan Harrison of the United States against No. 7-seeded David Ferrer of Spain. Harrison was leading 2-1 in sets, but Ferrer was up a break at 4-2 in the fourth, when play was suspended because of darkness.

In a match that barely finished -- there are no artificial lights other than at Centre Court -- marathon man John Isner of the United States failed to earn a single break point and lost to 16th-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3.

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