WIMBLEDON, England – After playing so well, so often, at this year’s first two major tournaments, Li Na’s run at Wimbledon came to an early end.
Only 21/2 weeks after giving China its first Grand Slam singles championship at the French Open, and five months after being the runner-up at the Australian Open, Li was knocked out in the second round at the All England Club on Thursday, the grass-court tournament’s biggest upset so far.
The third-seeded Li wasted two match points and succumbed to the serving of wild-card entry Sabine Lisicki of Germany, 3-6, 6-4, 8-6. Lisicki hit 17 aces, including one at 124 mph, which the WTA said is the fastest serve by a woman all season.
“I mean, (from) the first point ’til the end of the match, every serve was, like, around 117 miles (per hour),” said Li, 14-1 in Grand Slam play in 2011 before Thursday. “I mean, this is impossible for the women.”
Elsewhere, Serena Williams again was pushed to three sets before winning, then complained a bit about having to play on Court 2 instead of Centre Court or Court 1; Roger Federer overwhelmed his opponent in straight sets, then basked in a standing ovation after playing under the retractable roof at the main stadium for the first time; and two-time French Open runner-up Robin Soderling came back after losing the first two sets to beat 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-7 (5), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Li appeared headed to the third round, too. Leading 5-3 in the third set, she was a point away from victory while Lisicki served at 15-40. But Lisicki got out of that jam this way: 122 mph service winner, 123 mph service winner, 124 mph ace, 122 mph ace.
“Obviously, a good serve is important, but also, you have to use it well,” the 62nd-ranked Lisicki said. “And I think I’m serving quite smart, as well. So it definitely helped me today.”