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Maria Sharapova falls at Wimbledon, but she'll always have Paris

Sharapova, No. 1 in women's tennis and still buoyed by French Open triumph last month, is almost sanguine after fourth-round loss to Sabine Lisicki. Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer win.

July 02, 2012|By Art Spander

WIMBLEDON, England — The way Maria Sharapova was talking, discussing her French Open victory last month as opposed to her Wimbledon loss Monday ("I'll have that for the rest of my career"), it was easy to think of the film "Casablanca."

"We'll always have Paris," Humphrey Bogart says in that familiar line. So will Sharapova.

What she won't have now is the opportunity to be the first woman since Serena Williams in 2002 to win the French and Wimbledon back to back. Nor will she have the opportunity retain the No. 1 spot in the rankings after this week.

Sabine Lisicki of Germany, with countryman Dirk Nowitzki in her entourage and power in her serve, upset the top-seeded and top-ranked Sharapova, 6-4, 6-3, in their fourth-round match on Court 1.

"She did many things much better than I did," Sharapova conceded.

Before persistent rain settled in — affecting any match not on Centre Court, which was covered by that $80-million roof — Williams did enough things better than Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan to win, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5. Williams had her own NBA representative in the crowd, Scottie Pippen.

"I just felt like I was sluggish," said Williams, whose last of 13 Grand Slam wins came here two years ago. "Just pulling myself together mentally. But I feel I can do a lot better, which is very comforting, because if this is my best I'm in trouble."

For Sharapova, the trouble started in the second game; she lost that, and the next three. In the second set she lost the opening three games.

"She's always had that potential," Sharapova said of Lisicki, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year. "If she serves as well as she did today and is as aggressive as she was, there's no doubt she has a lot of potential."

In three of the last four Wimbledons, Lisicki, 22, has beaten the French Open winner — Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2009, Li Na in 2011 and this time Sharapova.

"I was down 2-5," Sharapova, 25, said of the first set, "got back on serve and I had opportunities for it to be 5-all. Played a few sloppy points, and she raised her level. That wasn't a good combination for me."

After Williams' second consecutive three-set match, she had to work her way from Court 2 back to the locker room, which proved almost as difficult as battling Shvedova, who on Saturday against Sara Errani had become the first player at a Grand Slam event to record a so-called "golden set," winning all 24 points.

"I love the crowds here," said Williams, 30, who next faces 2011 champion Petra Kvitova in a quarterfinal. "But I was totally mobbed. I thought I was going to fall down after the match. I guess that comes with the territory."

When someone wondered whether Williams was frightened, she answered, "No, I wasn't scared. Nobody's going to knock me over for real. I'd like to see that happen. You guys know how I can get."

What soon-to-retire Kim Clijsters got was a little defensive. After losing to Angelique Kerber, 6-1, 6-1, in what the Belgian has indicated would be her last Wimbledon, she said, "I won't be sorry about anything. I've given my best, and that's the only thing I can try."

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and six-time champion Roger Federer were winners. Mardy Fish won the first set from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before play was suspended.

And Rufus the Hawk, who flies around Centre Court to keep away the pigeons, was back. He had been bird-napped Thursday night from his owner's car, then returned Sunday to the SPCA in nearby East Putney.

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