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Friday, June 27, 2008
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The Championships Wimbledon

Topsy-turvy Day Four

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia on Day Four of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Tennis Club in southwest London yesterday.Photo: AFP

Golden girl Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick, the all-American poster boy of men's tennis, suffered their worst Wimbledon defeats on Thursday, the fourth day of the championships.

Sharapova endured the darkest moment of her sparkling career when world number 154, and Russian compatriot, Alla Kudryavtseva sent her spinning out in the second round.

Sharapova, the 2004 champion, became the latest marquee name to crash out at the All England Club in successive days following men's third seed Novak Djokovic's defeat to Marat Safin.

Sixth seed Roddick than joined the scrapheap when he lost 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 to Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic.

Also exiting the tournament on a day of major shocks were men's ninth seed James Blake and women's 10th seed Daniela Hantuchova.

"She played better, served and returned better and on grass they are the important elements," admitted Sharapova after slumping to her worst defeat in six visits.

Kudryavtseva, who now plays China's Peng Shuai, then added insult to injury by revealing the frosty relationship between Sharapova and many of the other Russian women on tour.

"I don't know her well. I think I'm quite sure no one on the tour knows Maria well because she's not a very talkative girl and not very outgoing," said Kudryavtseva.

Roddick, the runner-up in 2004 and 2005 to Roger Federer, slumped to his worst defeat in nine visits.

Tipsarevic now faces Russia's Dmitry Tursunov for a place in the last 16.

Roddick only returned to the tour at Queen's last week after a shoulder injury kept him out of the French Open and his lack of sharpness told in a three-hour match where he failed to convert any of his eight break points. The American also had three set points in the fourth set.

Spanish second seed Rafael Nadal, bidding to become only the third man to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season, saw off 19-year-old Latvian Ernests Gulbis 5-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-3.

He will tackle experienced German Nicolas Kiefer for a place in the last 16.

"I knew beforehand that it would be a very difficult match. He's a tough player who will be at the top very soon," said Nadal who has been runner-up to Federer in the last two years.

Lindsay Davenport, the 32-year-old American who was champion in 1999 and runner-up on her last appearance in 2005, handed scheduled opponent Gisela Dulko a walkover after failing to recover from a knee injury.

Despite the disappointing end to her 13th Wimbledon, Davenport is confident of playing at the Beijing Olympics and at the US Open later this year.

Dulko, the world 39, goes on to face Russian fifth seed Elena Dementieva.

Defending champion Venus Williams ended British hopes in the women's singles with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Anne Keothavong and next faces Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez who put out Indian 32nd seed Sania Mirza 6-0, 4-6, 9-7.

Britain's 12th seed Andy Murray kept home hopes alive in the men's singles by brushing aside Belgium's Xavier Malisse 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 and now faces Germany's Tommy Haas who put out Spanish 23rd seed Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

But America's James Blake, the ninth seed, was knocked out by Rainer Schuettler, with the 32-year-old German winning 6-3, 6-7 (8/10), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Women's second seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia beat Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3 and now plays Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki while Russian ninth seed Dinara Safina followed big brother Marat into the third round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh.

Russia's Alisa Kleybanova put out 10th seed Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.

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