Wimbledon: French champion Li beaten by wild card Lisicki

Jun 24, 2011

The first massive shock of the 125th Championships came under the closed roof of Centre Court when the German wild card Sabine Lisicki knocked out the third seed and French Open champion Li Na 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 in a two hours and 11 minutes marathon of roller-coaster excitement and wildly swinging fortunes.

Twice Li held match point at 5-3 in the 54 minute third set, only for Lisicki to clamber back from the brink with four first serve winners, two of them thunderous aces. Still the Chinese served for the match at 5-4, only to throw away the golden moment on four unforced errors as she persisted in going for the lines rather than playing safely.

At 5-5 it was Lisicki's turn to be broken but, once more, serving for the match proved beyond the 29-year-old Li as another flurry of unforced errors cost her dear.

And so Lisicki, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury, realised that the finest win of her career was there for the taking. She held serve to lead 7-6 and then watched Li commit tennis suicide with another string of unforced forehand errors.

The ecstatic Lisicki, watched by her father and coach Richard, blew kisses and bowed to the crowd before collapsing in tears on her chair. It was a sensational victory she had earned by a wonderful never-say-die attitude as she chased from side to side of the court, rescuing hopeless causes and turning them into triumphs.

All had earlier seemed so straightforward as Li, impassive under her white visor, hammered winners on her forehand, broke for a 5-3 lead after some sensational rallies and took the first set in 31 minutes.

But the signs were already there that Lisicki would make a long match of this, and her power and resilience began to dominate the second set as she led 4-1. Remorselessly, Li clawed back the deficit to 4-5, only to be broken as Lisicki lifted the level of the rallies to marvellous heights and levelled the match.

Even so, Li's early break in the final set seemed to have clinched a place in the third round, only for her forehand to go walkabout and Lisicki to pull off the finest win of the week on a wave of 17 aces.