Li stopped in her tracks, Hewitt falls short

LONDON, (Reuters) – Li Na’s hopes of a French  Open-Wimbledon double vanished yesterday as the Chinese was  beaten by wildcard Sabine Lisicki but Serena Williams, the last  player to achieve the feat, continued her comeback in ominous  fashion.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer continued their  swashbuckling progress through the draw and fifth seed Robin  Soderling fought back from two-sets down to beat former champion  Lleyton Hewitt in an enthralling match.

Serena Williams

Li, who became the darling of the world’s most populous  nation by triumphing at Roland Garros this month, squandered two  match points in a 3-6 6-4 8-6 defeat under Centre Court’s roof  on a cool, showery day in south west London.

Her surprise exit to a player battling back from injury  continued a recent trend of Wimbledon woe for winners of the  women’s singles in Paris.

Francesca Schiavone made a first-round exit last year and  Svetlana Kuznetsova, in 2009, and Ana Ivanovic, in 2008,  survived only until the third round.

Li’s appearance on Centre Court was delayed by a gritty win  for Soderling who dropped the first two sets against 2002  champion Hewitt.

Australian former world number one Hewitt, still a dogged  competitor despite the injuries that have seen him drop out of  the top 100, looked set to pull off the biggest shock of the  tournament but Soderling won 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 6-4 after nearly  four hours of baseline combat.

Roger Federer

“We’ve all just been focusing on trying to get through here  in sort of one piece and we’ll pick up all the pieces after that  and put it together,” the 30-year-old Hewitt, who nearly missed  the tournament because of a foot injury, said after his earliest  exit since a first-round defeat as champion in 2003.

PERFECT START

Second seed Djokovic continued his perfect start with a  crushing 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over towering South African Kevin  Anderson.

The Serb, who can take over as world No.1 if Rafa Nadal  fails to retain his title, won the opening five games in 15  minutes and never looked back.

“I’m really happy with the opening two rounds in Wimbledon,”  he said. “Two straight-set wins. I cannot ask for more.”

Third seed Federer also looked a class apart as he continued  his bid for a seventh Wimbledon title and 17th grand slam crown  with a 6-2 6-3 6-2 win over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the  late match under the Centre Court roof.

“It was a nice match for me and it was good to play under  the roof for the first time,” Federer said. “It was a good  experience and the atmosphere was great.”

Defending women’s champion Williams dispensed with the tears  as she reached the third round with an ultimately easy victory  over Romanian teenager Simona Halep.

Niovak Djokovic

The 29-year-old, who wept after beating Aravane Rezai on  Tuesday as the emotional turmoil of a horrendous 11 months out  caught up with her, eventually found her A-game in a 3-6 6-2 6-1  victory out on Court Two.

While she was generally happy with her progress after  returning to action just before Wimbledon, she was a little  puzzled at the decision to schedule her match on the  third-biggest court.

“I don’t know,” she told a news conference. “They like to  put us on Court Two, me and Venus, for whatever reason. I  haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe one day we’ll figure it out.”

Several other seeds began to bloom despite the fickle  weather that had fans reaching for their pullovers and umbrellas  throughout day four.

Sixth seed Schiavone beat Barbora Zahlavova 7-5 6-3 on her  31st birthday and was joined in the last 32 by Serbia’s Ana  Ivanovic who breezed past Greek wildcard Eleni Daniilidou 6-3  6-0.

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki had a frustrating afternoon,  however, as her second-round match against Virginie Razzano was  postponed until today, as was 2004 champion Maria Sharapova’s  against British teenager Laura Robson.

At least they survive to fight another day, unlike Li.

The 29-year-old was highly-fancied to challenge for the  title after her runner-up finish at the Australian Open and then  her crowning glory in Paris, but she was left to rue wasted  opportunities against an inspired opponent.

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