LONDON - Serena Williams joined a growing list of marquee names eliminated early at this wild and unpredictable Wimbledon.
LONDON — Serena Williams joined a growing list of marquee names eliminated early at this wild and unpredictable Wimbledon.
Williams, the defending champion and five-time Wimbledon winner, could not close out a see-saw third set yesterday, dropping the last four games to Sabine Lisicki of Germany and losing 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in the fourth round. The result ended Williams’ career-best 34-match winning streak.
It was the latest in a string of improbable exits to jolt the tournament, with defending men’s champion Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal knocked out in the first three days, along with Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.
“I probably couldn’t be more disappointed,” Williams said. “I think I may have backed off of a success. I was playing something successful. I didn’t continue that path. The result didn’t go the way it could have gone had I continued to play the way I did in the second set.”
Her loss left top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray as the only pretournament favorites still standing.
Those two stayed on course for a meeting in the final by winning in straight sets on Centre Court. Djokovic ousted German veteran Tommy Haas after Murray defeated Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. Neither player has dropped a set on the way to the quarterfinals.
Williams hadn’t either before this match. But after dropping the first against Lisicki, she won nine straight games to lead 3-0 in the third. The players then traded breaks to give Williams a 4-2 lead, but the American couldn’t win another game despite having four break points at 4-3.
Lisicki converted her second match point with a forehand winner.
“I’m still shaking,” Lisicki said in a postmatch interview. “I’m just so happy.”
Williams said her serve — usually her main weapon — let her down in the third set.
“I felt that I was on the verge of winning,” she said. “At that point, I just was physically unable to hold serve. … You have to be ready and willing to hold your serve. I wasn’t willing or able, probably didn’t even want to hold my serve today.”
Lisicki reached the semifinals at the All England Club in 2011. but this will rank as her biggest victory at the grass-court Grand Slam.
Djokovic reached his 17th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal by defeating Haas 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4). He could not serve out the match at 5-3 in the third and wasted a match point in the next game before closing out the tiebreaker with a forehand winner on his fourth match point.
“I think that I’m playing really, really good tennis at this moment,” Djokovic said. “Maybe even better than in 2011 when I won this tournament.”
Djokovic moves on to face No. 7 Tomas Berdych, who defeated Bernard Tomic 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4.
Murray, facing increasing pressure to become the first British man since 1936 to win Wimbledon, was in trouble in the second set. He trailed 5-2 against Youzhny but broke back when the Russian served for the set at 5-4. Then, down 5-3 in the tiebreaker, Murray took the set’s last four points. He broke immediately in the third, and cruised from there to set up a match with Fernando Verdasco of Spain.
Despite Williams’ loss, there still is an American woman in the quarterfinals after Sloane Stephens defeated Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.