WIMBLEDON, England — French Open champion Li Na squandered two match points and lost in the second round of Wimbledon on Thursday to German wild card Sabine Lisicki, the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
The 62nd-ranked Lisicki erased both match points with service winners in the ninth game of the third set and beat the third-seeded Chinese player 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 under the roof on Centre Court. Other winners on Day 4 included six-time champion Roger Federer, women’s defending titlist Serena Williams and second-seeded Novak Djokovic.
After Li hit a forehand long on Lisicki’s third match point, the 21-year-old German fell to her knees at the baseline and put her head to the turf. She broke into tears at her courtside chair.
“My emotions are so, I mean, just over the moon,” said Lisicki, who served 17 aces and had 32 winners. “It’s just amazing.”
Li was up 4-2 in the third set and twice served for the match but was broken each time. She had won 14 of her previous 15 Grand Slam matches in 2011, reaching the final at the Australian Open, then becoming China’s first major singles champion at Roland Garros last month.
“Tough match,” Li said. “But I think both players today played great. Nothing wrong, just unlucky. I have two match points. But I can do nothing for these two match points.”
Lisicki has now won 12 of her last 13 matches on grass, including reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2009 and winning a tuneup tournament in Birmingham this month. She missed five months last season with a left ankle injury, and she fell out of the top 200 in the rankings.
“It was very, very hard,” she said. “I really had to start from zero after being on crutches for seven weeks so it just means so much to me, you know, winning the title in Birmingham and getting the wild card here. I appreciate it so much, to be back in Wimbledon. It’s just a place that I love so much.”
At 5-3 down in the third, Lisicki fell behind 15-40 on her serve and faced two match points. She came up with two service winners at more than 193 kilometres per hour and two straight aces — including a 200 km/h delivery, the fastest by any woman this year.
Li served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 but couldn’t convert.
“I just wanted to enjoy myself here and that’s what I’m doing,” Lisicki said. “That’s what I told myself on the third set when I was down a break and she was serving for the match and I was just fighting and I wanted to stay longer out there.
“The crowd was cheering. I didn’t know it could get so loud in there. It was just amazing. I loved it out there. The support was just amazing.”
Li said she couldn’t handle Lisicki’s huge serve.
“Start of the first point until the end of the match, every serve was like around 117 miles (per hour),” she said. “I mean, this is impossible for the women.”
Li reached the quarter-finals here in 2006 and 2010. Her landmark victory in Paris last month was watched by a reported 116 million people in China.
“I didn’t feel different,” she said Thursday. “I didn’t feel pressure. Only change is right now opponents see you different. They (have) nothing to lose. So they can play best tennis on the court.”
Federer, playing the last match on Centre Court, needed only 1 hour, 28 minutes to put away Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-2, 6-3 6-2. With his parents watching from the Royal Box, the third-seeded Swiss finished the match in style — soaring high in the air for a flying overhead smash.
It was the first time Federer has played under the roof on the court where he has made his name as perhaps the greatest player of all time. Fans held up play by doing the wave before Federer served for the match.
“It was very nice to play indoors for the first time,” he said.
“I’ve played on Centre Court for 10 straight years. The atmosphere was fantastic. It very nice for me to have such a standing ovation every time. I thought the conditions were fantastic from start to finish.”
Earlier, Williams recovered from a poor start to defeat Romania’s Simona Halep 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 and move into the third round, staying on course for a fifth title.
After dropping the first set, Williams regained her renowned intensity and powerful shot-making to dominate the rest of the way on Court 2. The winner of 13 Grand Slam singles titles is still searching for her form after a yearlong absence because of injuries and health issues.
There were no tears this time from Williams, who sobbed with relief on Monday after winning her opening match on Centre Court against Aravane Rezai.
“I’m just happy to be playing and hopefully I’ll get better as the tournament goes on,” Williams said. “It was a little windy out there and I just was a little tight so I just got to relax and enjoy myself more.”