Williams Sisters Lose at Wimbledon

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Britain Wimbledon Tennis

By STEPHEN WILSON,  AP Sports Writer

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Venus and Serena Williams were
eliminated in the fourth round of Wimbledon on Monday, the first
time in five years that neither sister will play in the
quarterfinals at the All England Club.

Defending champion and four-time winner Serena was the first to
go, beaten 6-3, 7-6 (6) by Marion Bartoli of France, cutting short
the American’s return to Grand Slam tennis after nearly a year out
with serious health problems.

Older sister and five-time champion Venus was ousted 6-2, 6-3 by
Tsvetana Pironkova– the exact same score of the Bulgarian’s win in
last year’s quarterfinals.

“Definitely not our best day,” Venus said. “I think we both
envisioned seeing this day going a little bit different.”

Also knocked out was top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who fell
1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 to No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova in the Dane’s latest
failed attempt to win her first Grand Slam title.

Venus and Serena have won nine of the last 11 titles at
Wimbledon, and have faced each other in four finals.

In 2006, Venus lost in the third round and Serena missed the
tournament. This is the first year that, when both sisters were in
the draw, both lost before the quarterfinals.

The last time the sisters lost on the same day at a Grand Slam
was in 2008, when they fell in the third round at the French Open.

 

“Obviously it’s not something planned,” Venus said. “We
rarely lose on the same day.”

With 2004 champion Maria Sharapova of Russia among those
advancing Monday, it marks the first time since 1913 that all eight
women’s Wimbledon quarterfinalists are from Europe –all from
different countries.

In men’s play, second-seeded Novak Djokovic kept up his bid for
a first Wimbledon title by beating Michael Llodra of France 6-3,
6-3, 6-3. The two-time Australian Open champion, who can replace
Rafael Nadal as the top-ranked man in the world by reaching the
final, lost in the semifinals last year.

Djokovic will next face Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic, who
downed Xavier Malisse 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 to become the youngest man to
make the Wimbledon quarterfinals since Boris Becker in 1986.

Fourth-seeded Andy Murray swept Richard Gasquet of France 7-6
(3), 6-3, 6-2– then took a deep bow to the Royal Box, where Prince
William and his new bride Kate joined the rest of the crowd in
giving the British winner a standing ovation.

“I was obviously very happy after the match,” Murray said. “I
think that was the right thing to do.”

Murray, who has made the semifinals the last two years, is
trying to become the first British man to win the title at the All
England Club since Fred Perry in 1936. He met with the royal couple
after the match.

“If I’d known they were coming, I would have shaved,” the Scot
said with a smile. “I was thinking to myself as I came off I was
sweaty and very hairy. I said to them, ‘I’m sorry, I’m a bit
sweaty.’ But it was really nice.”

Murray’s next opponent is unseeded Feliciano Lopez, who came
from two sets down and saved two match points in the third set
tiebreaker to overcome Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 3-6, 6-7 (5),
7-6 (7), 7-5, 7-5. Lopez served 28 aces.

With no American women left in the draw, 10th-seeded Mardy Fish
made it to his first Wimbledon quarters by serving 23 aces and
beating 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4. Fish saved
both break points he faced and finished with 42 winners and only 12
unforced errors. The sixth-seeded Czech hadn’t lost a set in three
matches.

After winning last year’s Wimbledon, Serena missed nearly a year
after foot surgery and subsequent blood clots in her lungs. She
returned two weeks ago at Eastbourne for the first time since then.

Venus also returned at Eastbourne after a five-month layoff with a
hip injury.

Venus was clearly off the top of her game Monday, committing 16
unforced errors and converting only one of four break points. She
was broken four times.

“I didn’t seem to get the ball in,” Venus said. “She took her
opportunities. I just didn’t put the ball in the court, simple as
that. Unfortunately, I seem not to have my good days against her.
But she played well.”

The 33rd-seeded Pironkova, who lost in the semifinals here last
year to eventual runner-up Vera Zvonareva, played steady tennis
against Venus and never cracked.

“I beat her two times, two consecutive years– it feels amazing
to play such a champion on this legendary court,” the Bulgarian
said after holding serve and stroking a backhand winner down the
line on her second match point. “When I come here I just feel so
relaxed. I really like the atmosphere here.”

Serena saved four match points before the ninth-seeded Bartoli
closed out the contest by hitting a service winner into the corner.

It was Serena’s earliest exit at Wimbledon since a third-round loss
in 2005.

“I never came here thinking I would lose,” she said. “That’s
my attitude. You win some and you lose some. Today just happened to
be the one that slipped under me.”

But Serena said she was satisfied getting as far as she did
after such a long time away from the game.

“I think I did really well just being able to come back and
play and win some matches, and just really play tough,” she said.

“Even today I lost, but I was able to kind of hang in there and
play tough. And I can only get better. That can potentially be
really scary, because I can only go up from here and I can just do
so much more.”

Bartoli made the Wimbledon final in 2007, losing to Venus.
Serena had 20 unforced errors Monday to go with 29 winners, and
managed to convert only one of five break points. Bartoli served 10
aces, two more than Williams, and kept down her errors to 17.

It was the first time Bartoli has beaten the American after
straight-set defeats in their previous two matches.

“Beating Serena is almost like a dream come true,” Bartoli
said. “Even though she didn’t play for almost one year, she’s
probably one of the greatest champions in women’s tennis.

“For me to be able come back after having three match points
and losing this game at 6-5, and still be able to bounce back, it’s
really huge.”

Wozniacki, who has never reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon,
went up a break against Cibulkova in the third set but couldn’t
capitalize, losing serve three times the rest of the way. Cibulkova
dictated play most of the last two sets and finished with 44
winners, 11 more than Wozniacki.

Wozniacki has played in only one major final, losing to Kim
Clijsters at the 2009 U.S. Open. Despite the lack of a major title,
she will remain No. 1 in the rankings.

“I don’t really care what people think or say or do,” she
said. “I cannot really do anything now. I did my best and it
wasn’t good enough.”

Cibulkova earned a quarterfinal matchup with Sharapova, who made
it to the last eight for the first time in five years, beating Peng
Shuai 6-4, 6-2 on a sweltering day.

Sharapova started slowly before winning seven straight games to
take command against the 20th-seeded Chinese player on Court 2. The
big-hitting Russian had 27 winners and 10 unforced errors.

The match was played with on-court temperatures measured at 93
degrees, and Sharapova covered her legs with ice wrapped in towels
during changeovers.

“Last year I lost in the fourth round to Serena and this year I
find myself in the quarterfinals and I’m giving myself an
opportunity to go even in further so I’m quite happy about that,”
Sharapova said. “I have to be a little realistic about the fact
that I haven’t gotten past the fourth round in a few years. This is
a step forward.”

In other women’s play, fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka beat
Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-2; German wild card Sabine Lisicki reached the
quarters for the second time, downing Petra Cetkovska 7-6 (3), 6-1;
No. 8 Petra Kvitova, a semifinalist here last year, needed just 45
minutes to defeat No. 19 Yanina Wickmayer 6-0, 6-2; and 80th-ranked
Austrian Tamira Paszek beat Ksenia Pervak of Russia 6-2, 2-6, 6-3
to secure her first Grand Slam quarterfinal berth.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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