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Li Na Loses to Lisicki at Wimbledon; Federer, Djokovic Advance

German player Sabine Lisicki
German player Sabine Lisicki reacts after beating Chinese player Li Na during the women's single at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London on June 23, 2011. Photographer: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

French Open champion Li Na became the highest seed to exit Wimbledon in a three-set loss to Sabine Lisicki, while Serena Williams recovered from a set down to reach round three and Roger Federer advanced in straight sets.

Lisicki, a 21-year-old German, saved two match points on her serve against the No. 3 seed from China before winning yesterday’s second-round match 3-6, 6-4, 8-6.

Lisicki, who lives in Bradenton, Florida, fell to 211th on the women’s tour in March after missing five months last year with a left ankle injury. Her ranking rose to No. 62 when she won a Wimbledon tune-up in Birmingham, England, this month.

“I’m coming off a title, so I feel very good,” Lisicki told reporters. “I’m just happy to be back on the grass and just enjoy every minute of it.”

Lisicki thanked tournament organizers for giving her a wild-card invitation to play after she missed Wimbledon in 2010. In 2009, she became the first German woman to reach the quarterfinals at the All England Club since Steffi Graf in 1999.

Li became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title at the French Open this month. She won at Roland Garros after making the final of the Australian Open in January.

Williams beat Simona Halep, a 19-year-old Romanian, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 to extend her record of always reaching the third round to 12 appearances at Wimbledon. Federer defeated France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, while No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal Faces Muller

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain resumes his title defense today against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg on Court No. 1 and former champion Maria Sharapova from Russia plays Britain’s Laura Robson. American Andy Roddick opens Centre Court play against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and Victoria Azarenka, the No. 4 seed from Belarus, faces Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova.

Williams, 29, won last year’s tournament, then missed almost 12 months while having two operations on her right foot and being treated for blood clots in her lungs. Trying to become the first woman to win three straight Wimbledon titles since Graf in 1993, the American has been forced to three sets in each of her four matches since her comeback began at a grass-court tournament last week in Eastbourne, England.

“I’m just happy to be playing and hopefully will get better as the tournament goes on,” Williams said in a televised interview. “I got tight. I need to relax a bit more.”

Rain Delays

Rain delayed play several times yesterday and only matches on Centre Court, which has a roof, continued at some points.

Sharapova’s match with Robson and top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki’s meeting with Virginie Razzano of France were among those pushed to today. American Ryan Harrison, 19, was leading Spain’s David Ferrer, the seventh seed, by two sets to one when play was suspended around 9 p.m. local time.

Federer closed play on Centre Court last night. The third seed from Switzerland, who has a men’s record 16 major titles, is vying for his seventh Wimbledon championship, which would tie the record held by William Renshaw and Pete Sampras.

It was the first time Federer, 29, played under the closed roof of Wimbledon. Last year, he failed to reach the final for the first time since 2003.

“It was a special moment for me in my career, playing indoors here at Wimbledon,” Federer told reporters. “I’m happy I managed to play a good match under the circumstances.”

Djokovic Advances

Djokovic, who will become No. 1 in the ATP rankings if he makes the final or if top-ranked Nadal doesn’t retain his title, also won in straight sets. Djokovic has reached the semifinals at Wimbledon twice.

The 24-year-old Djokovic had a 43-match winning streak ended by Federer in the French Open semifinals. The run, which started in the Davis Cup final last year, was the third longest since tennis went professional in 1968. Guillermo Vilas’s 46 straight wins and Ivan Lendl’s 44 lead the list.

Fifth-seeded Robin Soderling recovered from a two-set deficit to beat 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-7 (5-7), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 in almost four hours on Centre Court.

“I never came back from two sets to love down before in my career,” Soderling, 26, told reporters. “It’s tough.”

Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, also came back to defeat Olivier Rochus of Belgium in a match that was continued from the previous day. The Argentine will play 15th-seeded Gilles Simon of France today in the third round.

“It was a better match for me,” Del Potro said. “I played more aggressively. That’s important for me since I don’t get a day off this week.”

Isner Ousted

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 12th seed from France, overcame Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, while John Isner, who defeated Nicolas Mahut in the first round in a rematch of the longest tennis match in history, lost to Nicolas Almagro.

The Spaniard won 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 on Court 18, where the 26-year-old American’s record 11-hour, 5-minute match against Mahut was played last year. Isner beat Mahut three days ago on Court No. 3.

Francesca Schiavone, the sixth seed and 2010 French Open champion, reached the third round for the third time in 11 attempts, while Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open winner, also advanced. The Serb is one of six women in the Wimbledon draw to have been ranked No. 1 by the WTA.

Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, the 13th seed, was upset by Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic and No. 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia lost to countrywoman Nadia Petrova.

Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 12th seed, Germany’s Julia Goerges and Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer also advanced.

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