Serena Williams’s Wimbledon defeat to big-serving Sabine Lisicki opens up the possibility of a first-time women’s singles champion at the All England Club.
Lisicki yesterday beat the five-time titlist from the U.S., 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 on Centre Court at the All England Club in southwest London.
“I’m still shaking, I’m so happy,” the German said in a televised interview, before bursting into tears. “Serena played a fantastic match, she is such a tough opponent. An amazing feeling to win this match.”
Williams’s fourth-round departure follows defending men’s champion Roger Federer’s exit in the second round and two-time winner Rafael Nadal’s loss in the opening round. With 2011 victor Petra Kvitova the only former Wimbledon winner left on the women’s side, there could be a first-time female champion on July 6.
Kvitova of the Czech Republic plays Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens in today’s quarterfinals, while No. 17 seed Sloane Stephens, the last remaining singles player from the U.S., faces former runner-up Marion Bartoli of France. China’s Li Na plays last year’s finalist Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, while Lisicki meets Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.
“This has been a crazy Wimbledon,” Stephens said.
Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic and second-seeded Andy Murray advanced to the quarterfinals yesterday without dropping a set. Britain’s Murray beat Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, while Serbia’s Djokovic fired 13 aces in a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory against 35-year-old Tommy Haas of Germany. Fourth seed David Ferrer of Spain also won.
Lisicki had three more aces yesterday than Williams, who’s hit the most on the women’s tour this season. The 23-year-old converted five of eight break points and used an efficient volley, winning 14 of 16 approaches, or 88 percent. Lisicki’s winning forehand on match point was her 35th winner, 10 more than Williams, a 16-time Grand Slam singles champion.
“It’s not a shock, she always plays really good on grass,” Williams said in a news conference. “I didn’t play the big points good enough, I didn’t do what I do best. I had a little bit of hesitation.”
Lisicki has now dumped the reigning French Open champion out of Wimbledon four times in five years. She said Williams put up a fight.
“She played unbelievable tennis, I gave it everything I had,” Lisicki said, “I just hung in there and fought for every single point.”
The 23rd-seeded Lisicki trailed 4-2 in the final set, then came back to 4-4 as she continued to fire serves of faster than 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour). Lisicki got to break point with a drop shot, and broke for a 5-4 lead as Williams sent a seemingly easy smash just over the baseline.
“She was just on today, she was definitely reading my serve,” Williams said. “She had nothing to lose.”
Serving for the biggest victory of her life, Lisicki set up her first match point with a service winner, only to squander it with a forehand long. A double fault followed to hand Williams a break point, which Lisicki saved with her 10th ace. A forehand winner after a long rally secured the win, with the victor falling to the grass in joy.
“She has one of the biggest serves on tour,” Williams said. “She’s actually super fast, she gets every ball back.”
It was the earliest loss in a major for Williams since she was eliminated in the opening round of the French Open last year. Since then, the 31-year-old had won Wimbledon, two Olympic gold medals, the U.S. Open and last month’s French Open. Today’s defeat ended her 34-match winning streak.
Williams’s loss means there will be new men’s and women’s singles champions. Federer was upset six days ago in the second round, when a record seven players exited the tournament because of injuries.
With Nadal also eliminated last week, the 20th-seeded Youzhny had been the highest-ranked player left on Murray’s side.
Murray is trying to become the first man from the British Isles to win the Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry in 1936. The Scot plays 54th-ranked Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals. After that, he would meet the winner of the first all-Polish men’s quarterfinal at Wimbledon, between 24th-seeded Jerzy Janowicz and 130th-ranked Lukasz Kubot.
Djokovic, the 2011 champion, plays former finalist Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who overcame Australia’s Bernard Tomic, 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-4.
“I lost to him the only time we played on grass, in 2010,” Djokovic said about Berdych. “But I am playing really, really good tennis at the moment.”
Murray said he expects to be challenged in the coming rounds.
“I don’t expect to come in to win, there’s no guarantees at all,” Murray, who won his first Grand Slam title at last year’s U.S. Open, said when asked about his possible path to the final. “Serena lost. Rafa and Roger also lost. If they can lose, so can I.”