June 28, 2014 in Sports

Wimbledon roundup: Venus Williams exits after 3-set battle

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Five-time Wimbledon champ Venus Williams was knocked out by No. 6 Petra Kvitova on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

LONDON – For 2 ½ hours, Venus Williams traded big serves and hard groundstrokes with Petra Kvitova on Centre Court. Williams was playing with some of the power and pace that had brought her five Wimbledon titles. But when it was over, she was left with a sense of disappointment.

“The battle is always a little more enjoyable when you win,” Williams said Friday after coming within two points of victory but losing 5-7, 7-6 (2), 7-5 to Kvitova, the 2011 champion.

All four of their previous meetings went to three sets and this one was no different, with plenty of suspense, intensity, and only a few break points.

Williams looked stronger early in the match and was up 5-4, 15-30 on Kvitova’s serve, in the second set. But the sixth-seeded Czech came up with some big serves, held and won the second-set tiebreaker.

The players then held serve for the first 11 games of the third set before Kvitova broke No. 30 Williams for the first time.

“It’s a shame there had to be a loser in this match and more of a shame that it had to be me,” Williams said.

Despite the loss, Williams had reasons to feel positive about her week in London.

At the age of 34, she has been playing well this season, winning a title in Dubai and reaching the final in Auckland and Miami. This week, she got to the third round at a Grand Slam tournament for only the second time in her past 10 appearances. After her battle with Kvitova, she reiterated that retirement is not in her plans.

“People have been trying to retire me since I was like 25. For some reason in tennis we always do that to our players. It’s weird,” said Williams.

Djokovic overcomes fall

Novak Djokovic lay crumpled on Centre Court, clutching his upper left arm and grimacing. He felt something pop and feared the worst.

Djokovic had lunged for a shot behind the baseline, tumbled on the grass and rolled over twice, his racket flying from his hand. His new coach, Boris Becker, stood in the player’s box and looked on gravely.

Slowly, Djokovic rose from the turf, still holding his arm across his chest and made his way to his chair.

“When I stood up, I felt that click or pop,” he said later. “I feared maybe it might be a dislocated shoulder or something like that.”

It wasn’t.

After a medical timeout and treatment, the top-seeded Djokovic needed just four more games to complete a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over France’s Gilles Simon, sending him into the fourth round and keeping alive his bid for a second Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam championship.

“Luckily there is nothing damaged,” Djokovic said. “I just came from the doctor’s office, ultrasound. It’s all looking good. I’m quite confident that it will not affect my physical state. I think it’s going to be fine.”

Djokovic will have two days off before an intriguing matchup Monday against another Frenchman, 14th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Li Na loses

Australian Open champion and second-seeded Li Na was eliminated 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first major upset at Wimbledon.

Li looked out of sorts for most of the third-round match on Court 1 and blew a set point in the second set.

Zahlavova Strycova called her win the biggest of her career. Li won the first of her two Grand Slam titles at the French Open in 2011 and had reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon three times.

“When you go on court you have to believe in yourself,” the 43rd-ranked Zahlavova Strycova said. “I thought I could do it and I was pushing myself a lot.”

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