Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lisicki bowls over Sharapova

French champ sent packing in fourth round

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WIMBLEDON, England -- A month after completing a career Grand Slam and securing the No. 1 ranking, Maria Sharapova failed to get past the fourth round of Wimbledon and lost her grip on the top spot.

The top-seeded Sharapova was outplayed 6-4, 6-3 on Monday by hard-hitting Sabine Lisicki of Germany in windy, rainy conditions on Court 1, ensuring there will be a first-time Grand Slam finalist from the top half of the women's draw.

"She did many things much better than I did today," said Sharapova, who won her first major title here in 2004 at the age of 17. "Of course, I could have done things differently, but not on this particular day."

The 15th-ranked Lisicki recorded her first career victory over Sharapova in four matches, avenging a loss in the semifinals to the Russian here last year.

Lisicki used flat, powerful groundstrokes that neutralized Sharapova, who was trying to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2002 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.

"I just missed a couple of points here and there, but overall I just felt very good and confident," Lisicki said.

Also advancing were four-time women's winner Williams, defending champion Petra Kvitova and second-seeded Victoria Azarenka, but four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters lost in what she says is her final Wimbledon before retirement later this year.

In men's play, top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic cruised into the quarters with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win over fellow Serb Viktor Troicki. The entire match was played under the Centre Roof because of rain, which forced the suspension of three men's quarter-finals.

American Mardy Fish led Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 1-1; Britain's Andy Murray led Marin Cilic 7-5, 3-1; and Florian Mayer led Richard Gasquet 6-3, 2-1. Two matches never started and will begin today: American qualifier Brian Baker against Philipp Kohlschreiber, and David Ferrer against Juan Martin del Potro.

Sharapova, who won the French Open four weeks ago for her fourth Grand Slam title, is the biggest name knocked out of the tournament since two-time men's champion Rafael Nadal was upset last week by Lukas Rosol.

Sharapova will lose the No. 1 ranking next week, with either current No. 2 Azarenka or No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska replacing her, depending on their results the rest of the tournament. Sharapova will fall to No. 2 or No. 3.

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

After smacking a second-serve 174 kph ace down the middle on her third match point, Lisicki collapsed to her knees on the grass and shook both fists. Among those cheering for Lisicki in the guest box was German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks.

"It's just unbelievable," Lisicki said. "For the third time I've beaten the French Open champion here. I'm just so happy. I've lost the three previous meetings against her. Now I just played well and beat her for the first time."

Lisicki will next face fellow German and No. 8 Angelique Kerber, who drubbed Clijsters 6-1, 6-1.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2012 C7

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