Wimbledon - Li falls in third round

Li Na's husband was granted an unexpected breather from his usual duties of "fixing the drinks and fixing the rackets" and "doing a lot of jobs" for his famous wife after the Australian Open champion suffered a shock third round exit at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon - Li falls in third round

View photo

Li Na of China hits a return to Yvonne Meusburger of Austria in their women's singles match at Wimbledon (Reuters)

Six months after thanking her long-suffering husband Jiang Shan in a hilarious Melbourne Park victory speech, during which she also praised her agent for "making me rich", Li let down her billion-strong Chinese fan base by bowing out early from the grasscourt major.

Jiang at least will be relieved that his wife did not hold him, or his loud snoring, responsible for Friday's result.

Instead, she blamed herself for the 7-6(5) 7-6(5) defeat by the Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

"I made the wrong decision. I need to play some matches before the big one," the world No.2 told reporters.

"I always play (the warm-up event in) Eastbourne every year, but (it's) always raining and windy. I say, 'Okay, I cannot practice in that'."

The gamble of opting out of playing in any grasscourt events over the past fortnight backfired on Friday as Li continued her unhappy association with Wimbledon.

A champion on red clay at Roland Garros in 2011 and on the hard courts of Melbourne in January, grass has proved to be tougher surface for Li to conquer.

Her hopes of improving on three previous quarter-final appearances ended when she whipped a forehand long on match point to become the highest seed so far to fall at this year's championships.

"It's not only about technique. I think sometimes I don't know how to play the point (on grass), especially in the important moment. Today I made a lot of mistakes," the 32-year-old said.

"I was always waiting (or) wishing for the opponent to make mistakes. But today it didn't work.

"At least I'm doing good in hard court. Now I'm back to hard courts again," she added with a shrug.

While Li was left to rue her missed chances, Zahlavova Strycova raised her arms in triumph and attributed the win to her "belief, belief, belief" as she finally reached the second week of a grand slam at the 33rd attempt and after more than a decade of trying.

The 28-year-old will play former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarter-finals.

Women's third seed Simona Halep suffered a less spectacular scare, dropping a set against unheralded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in a delayed second-round match.

Halep, who has vaulted up the rankings over the past year and reached the French Open final this month, eventually saw off the world number 170 6-3 4-6 6-4, but not before throwing away two match points as she struggled with her nerves.

"You know, on grass it is not easy. Every match is difficult. You never know who will win or who will lose because of the court," Halep said.

Forecast rain failed to arrive at Wimbledon, preferring perhaps to dump on the Glastonbury Festival 200 km to the west, but a swirling wind made serving problematic at times.

The wind did not prevent Petra Kvitova and the 34-year-old Venus Williams from treating spectators to a top-class demonstration of fast and powerful grasscourt tennis.

Venus had Kvitova on the ropes for much of the match, punching groundstroke winners on both sides of the court. But the Czech sixth seed, who has failed to find the form she showed in the three years since her triumph, found fresh legs during the tiebreak.

A disappointed Williams, who has suffered debilitating illness in recent years, said she would now concentrate on the doubles with sister Serena and had no intention of quitting tennis.

"I'm not getting out of here. I think this year has been a great year for me. I've had some tough losses, but I've learned a lot from them ... I'm proud of myself for what I'm achieving on the court."

Wimbledon round three results

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) beat 2-Li Na (China) 7-6(5) 7-6(5)

4-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) beat Michelle Larcher de Brito (Portugal) 6-2 6-0

6-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) beat 30-Venus Williams (U.S.) 5-7 7-6(2) 7-5

16-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) beat Ana Konjuh (Croatia) 6-3 6-0

22-Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) beat Caroline Garcia (France) 7-5 6-3

23-Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) beat 10-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) 6-4 6-2

Tereza Smitkova (Czech Republic) beat Bojana Jovanovski (Serbia) 4-6 7-6(5) 10-8

Peng Shuai (China) beat Lauren Davis (U.S.) 0-6 6-3 6-3

Round two

3-Simona Halep (Romania) beat Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 6-3 4-6 6-4

Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) beat Victoria Duval (U.S.) 6-4 7-5

View comments (2)