Jun 24 2011 By Colin Mackenzie
Giant killing was the name of the game on Wimbledon's Centre Court yesterday as wild card Sabine Lisicki unceremoniously dumped China's new darling Li Na, the French Open champion, out of the tournament.
Li complained that Lisicki "served like a man" following her 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 defeat to the world No 62 who has been plagued with injury over the past 12 months. First she was on crutches for seven weeks after turning her ankle and then had to default from her Roland Garros match last month after suffering from appendicitis.
Lisicki's serve certainly came to her rescue in the crucial moments of the final set. Standing at two match points down at 4-5 and 15-40 Lisicki unleashed four consecutive aces at speeds ranging from 120mph to 124mph. It was an astonishing demonstration of girl power.
Li, currently in the best form of her life, finally crumbled before the blitzkrieg - her timing and her ground strokes deserting her as the match reached its thrilling climax.
Following the retirement of Steffi Graf German tennis has been in something of a decline. But with Lisicki, Julia Goerges and Andrea Petkovic the German nation now has three women in the top 30 any one of whom could make the crucial breakthrough to Grand Slam success.
On Court One there was similar drama as 20-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the man they are calling "mini Fed" (because his style is similar to Roger Federer's) led Jo Wilfried Tsonga by a set.
But the experienced Frenchman, who loves playing on grass and took Andy Murray to three sets in the Queen's Final 11 days ago, finally asserted in four momentous sets of tennis that had 12,000 spectators on the edge of their seats. The score was 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.
Tsonga saved three set points in the fourth and final set just when his young opponent was looking to dominate the match again. The Frenchman, seeded 12, looked a very relieved man afterwards. He said; "He has a big future in the game and I hope he does well. He certainly stretched me out there."
In contrast both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic had untroubled passages to the third round both men looking supreme as they dispatched Adrian Mannarino and Kevin Anderson respectively in straight sets.
Serena Williams, again loooking uncomfortable as she beat Romania's Simona Halep 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, had a moan about being relegated to Wimbledon's No 2 court. She and her sister Venus can claim nine singles titles at Wimbledon between them and yet regularly have to play on outside courts unlike less successful men such as Andy Murray.
Serena moaned; "I don't make it a big issue but I think at some point I should."
In defence of the referee's scheduling an All England spokesman said; "Scheduling is a complex business and cannot be looked at in the light of just one or two matches. The referee's team have to ensure a balanced and fair order of play from many interests, including the spectators."
The plain fact is that most spectators on the Centre and No 1 Courts prefer to see men's matches, given the choice, which is why two mens and one womens matches are usually scheduled there daily at this stage of the tournament.
Certainly there will be few complaints from those spectators today who can see Andy Roddick, Victoria Azarenko and Andy Murray on Centre Court with Maria Sharapova (against our own teen darling Laura Robson), Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal on Court One.