Top seed Maria Sharapova knocked out of Wimbledon by Sabine Lisicki


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The Independent Online

Top seed Maria Sharapova crashed out of Wimbledon today when she was emphatically beaten by big-hitting Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round.

The French Open champion had looked in ominous form prior to today, but amid damp scenes on Court One, where at one stage play was suspended for over 30 minutes, she was unable to scale the heights that saw her beat the same opponent at the semi-final stage last year.

Sharapova's serve was broken three times in a chaotic first set and crucially once early in the second, with 15th-seeded German Lisicki taking the match 6-4 6-3 - the same score by which she lost to Sharapova 12 months ago.

Lisicki milked the ovation of the crowd at the end, falling to her knees having sent down an ace that Sharapova got nowhere near.

It was the third match point she had earned, with her Russian opponent offering late resistance, but Lisicki had never doubted her ability to get over the line.

"It's unbelievable," she said afterwards. "I've lost my last three against her and gave my very best.

"I just went for my shots, it's my favourite tournament. I love the grass and the crowd.

"I am a fighter, I got to the last point, the last game was tough and I'm happy. I'm getting better with each match and am looking forward to another one."

She has now beaten the reigning French Open champion three times at Wimbledon. She beat Li Na last year and Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2009, and today's success was on the cards from the first point.

She broke Sharapova in the opening game and, although she was immediately broken back, she took the third against the serve and then pulled to 5-2 ahead.

She did offer her own serve up to be pegged back at 5-4 but got set point in the 10th game and forced Sharapova to net.

The second set started under dark skies and the players left court after three points when the mild rainfall increased, but when they returned Lisicki remained on the front foot, breaking in the second game when Sharapova netted a backhand.

She needed to play only percentage tennis after that and she duly did, getting through to 5-3 and serving for the match. She dropped two match points - one after Sharapova dug out a brilliant forehand - but took the game with a second-serve ace down the middle.

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