Wimbledon - 'Black Wednesday' claims Tsonga, Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have become the latest big names to exit Wimbledon through injury.

Wimbledon - 'Black Wednesday' claims Tsonga, Azarenka

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Victoria Azarenka (Reuters)

Earlier on Wednesday Marin Cilic, Radek Stepanek, Steve Darcis, John Isner and Yaroslava Shvedova had seen their Wimbledon hopes ended by injury.

Popular Frenchman Tsonga made it an unlucky seven after he retired while trailing 6-3 3-6 3-6 to Latvia's Ernests Gulbis in their second-round clash.

Sixth seed Tsonga called on a trainer at the end of the second set to get treatment on his knee but threw in the towel a set later, joining a long list of casualties on day three of the championships.

Tsonga, who was a potential quarter-final opponent for British number one Andy Murray, had emerged from the treatment with strapping on his left knee to support a tendon injury that has been a problem in the past and flared up again six days ago.

But his already patchy performance only got worse as Gulbis, ranked 39th in the world, improved his serve and turned up the aggression, peppering shots past the struggling Frenchman to take control of the match.

"I tried, but no chance for me to beat a guy like this without my legs," Tsonga, twice a Wimbledon semi-finalist, said.

However, Gulbis, who faces Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the third round, said he had been on red alert all the same.

"It was tough points, because still even on one leg he has very good talented hands," he told reporters after booking his first ever place in the third round at the All England Club.

Cilic pulled out of his second-round tie against Kenny De Schepper with a left knee injury. The 10th seed was tipped for a strong run, having reached the final of Queen's, and eased to an opening victory.

Cilic could also have been Murray's potential quarter-final opponent, and was on track to meet Tsonga in the last 16.

Excessively slippery courts have been blamed for causing the problems, with most of the players affected having taken bad tumbles at some stage during the opening days of the tournament.

Cilic dubbed it "Black Wednesday", Azarenka accused organisers of failing to provide high-quality courts, while Maria Sharapova - who lost to Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito - angrily described the court as "dangerous" after falling heavily twice during her match.

Azarenka, the women's second seed, slipped uncomfortably during her opening match against Maria Joao Koehler, but recovered sufficiently to finish the match.

However, the Belarusian, scheduled to open against Flavia Pennetta on Centre Court, confirmed her withdrawal through injury moments before she was due to play on Wednesday.

"As soon as I went out I felt it," Azarenka told the BBC. "This kind of injury takes about 48 hours to show if it's going to get better or worse. In my case it has gone worse there is nothing really positive to say and I have to deal with it."

The former world number one claimed in her press conference that the incident was caused by the extreme slipperiness of the playing surface.

"The court was not in a very good condition that day," she said. "I don’t know if it's the court or the weather.

"I don’t know what the issue is, there was nothing I could have done... there is nothing I’ve done wrong.

"It's very tough. I couldn't be any more disappointed," added Azarenka who won Olympic gold in mixed doubles at Wimbledon last year.

"Wimbledon is just a tournament I was looking so forward to. I love playing here."

Another women's withdrawal was Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova, who pulled out before her second-round clash with world number eight Petra Kvitova.

Tenth seed Caroline Wozniacki managed to finish her second-round match despite suffering an ankle injury, but she was well beaten by Petra Cetkovska.

Back to the men's draw, Stepanek was trailing Jerzy Janowicz 6-2 5-3 when an upper left thigh injury put paid to his tournament.

Darcis, the conqueror of Rafael Nadal in the first round, cited a shoulder injury for his withdrawal - and like Azarenka he was dismayed at having to pull out.

"Having to throw in the towel after beating Rafa!? THE hardest decision of my career!!! #triedmybestanyway!!!" he wrote on Twitter.

The Belgian, ranked 135 in the world, stunned Spain's twice former champion Nadal in the first round on Monday and had been due to take on Poland's Lukasz Kubot in the second round.

Precious little was known about the 29-year-old from Liege until he turned tennis logic on its head by defeating the twice former champion in straight sets.

There was no partying though as it was straight back down to business for the son of a tennis coach who sports a shark tattoo on his arm and supports Anderlecht.

But now Darcis follows Lukas Rosol who also stunned Nadal last year but lost his next match - albeit his prompt exit is due to injury.

"It happened against Rafa in the middle of the first set when I fell down," Darcis told the BBC.

"After the (Nadal) match, a few hours after, I start to feel so much pain, I couldn't sleep that night. I saw the physio and the doctor yesterday. They did a good job.

"It's a little bit better today. But no chance I can play. I mean, I cannot serve. Even on the forehand side, I cannot hit a ball. It makes no sense to go on the court to withdraw after two games."

Darcis's withdrawal was perhaps even more infuriating than that of 12th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber on Tuesday night, with the German forced out due to illness with the match standing at two sets all.

Wimbledon marathon man John Isner was forced to retire after two games of his second round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino with a knee injury.

American Isner, who wrote his name into Wimbledon folklore when he played in the longest match in professional tennis in 2010 against Nicolas Mahut, pulled up while serving at 1-1 in the first set.

The 18th seed received extensive treatment on Court Three and attempted to battle through the pain barrier, but had to throw in the towel.

Isner is famous for his part in a record 11-hour-five-minute first round match at Wimbledon against Frenchman Mahut which he won 70-68 in the fifth set.

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