Sharapova and Roddick slump out

Maria Sharapova was floored at Wimbledon on Thursday by the daughter of a Greco-Roman wrestler.

Ranked 154th in the world, Alla Kudryavtseva had barely registered on the tennis radar but that did not stop her humiliating 2004 champion Sharapova 6-2 6-4 in the second round.

After a driving forehand sealed the biggest win of her career, Kudryavtseva leapt into the air and shrieked in delight.

“I did expect to win, so yes I believe it!” said a beaming Kudryavtseva, who had come within two points of knocking out Venus Williams in the first round 12 months ago.

“Last year I was so close and I thought I missed it once so I’m not going to miss it a second time,” added the Russian, whose father was a world champion wrestler in the 1980s.

Twenty four hours after third seed Novak Djokovic was ejected from the tournament, Janko Tipsarevic kept alive Serbian interest in the men’s draw by squeezing past twice former runner-up and sixth seed Andy Roddick 6-7 7-5 6-4 7-6.

Roddick’s exit completed a bad day for the Americans after Lindsay Davenport bowed out without hitting a ball and ninth seed James Blake emerged second best in a 6-3 6-7 4-6 6-4 6-4 defeat by Germany’s Rainer Schuettler.

Davenport pulled out of her match against Argentina’s Gisela Dulko with a right knee injury. The 1999 champion then hinted she might have played her last match at the All England Club.

Asked if she would be back at Wimbledon in 2009, the 32-year-old said: “I guess not ... I’m very shortsighted right now in my future, my goals.
There’s no question I’m a little bit older and a little bit more fragile than some other players.”

Fragile Russian
Sharapova certainly looked very fragile on Thursday and, for the second grand slam running she had no one but herself to blame for her listless performance.

The Russian hit 43 double faults during her four-match stay at Roland Garros and on Thursday produced another eight.

The last one gifted Kudryavtseva match point and the 20-year-old made sure it did not go to waste when she snatched victory moments later to end Sharapova’s 84-minute ordeal.

“This girl that beat me today, she might not win the tournament, but she beat me, and it probably made her tournament.” said the Australian Open champion, whose main contribution to this year’s Wimbledon turned out to be her much-hyped white tuxedo outfit.

“She had nothing to lose. She went for her shots and I was just pretty tentative.”

Tipsarevic also went for his shots, withstanding a barrage of aces to subdue the big-serving Roddick.

The American had been hoping to challenge Nadal and five-times champion Roger Federer for the title this year but instead suffered his earliest defeat in eight visits to the All England Club.

“[I’m] pretty distraught ... any chance I got I choked it, it’s tough to deal with,” said Roddick.

“I could sit and dance around it all night ... you guys saw it ... I just played horrific shots on break points.”

His exit left the men’s draw without three of the top six seeds since Nikolay Davydenko flopped in the first round.

After the demise of Roddick and Djokovic, few would now bet against Federer and Nadal contesting a third successive men’s final come July 6th.

Champion Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal also suffered a few anxious moments but lived to fight another day.

Williams, seeking a fifth singles title at Wimbledon, had to draw on all her big-match experience to repel world number 92 Anne Keothavong 7-5 6-2. Nadal also endured first-set jitters before he toppled rising Latvian Ernests Gulbis 5-7 6-2 7-6 6-3.

The Spanish second seed had been hoping for a brisk workout against the 48th ranked Gulbis but instead dropped a set at a major for the first time since the Australian Open in January.

Nadal, who romped to his fourth successive French Open title earlier this month without losing a set, slipped and slid at the baseline but regained his composure to wear down Gulbis.

Attempting to become the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same season, Nadal will next be up against Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer.

Andy Murray, the 12th seed, avoided any drama and kept the British faithfuls happy with a ruthless 6-4 6-2 6-2 win over former semi-finalist Xavier Malisse.

French Open finalist Dinara Safina found her comfort zone on grass to coast past Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei 6-3 6-2, while second seed Jelena Jankovic darted to a 6-1 6-3 win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. - Reuters

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