Sharapova sent packing by Lisicki


Tennis:Maria Sharapova's hopes of winning a second Wimbledon title were shattered today as the world number one was comprehensively beaten 6-4 6-3 by Germany's Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round.

The world number 15 had top seed Sharapova on the back foot early in the first set, forcing her into a string of uncharacteristic errors, and did not let up until she had gained revenge for her semi-final defeat by the Russian last year.

Lisicki, who had complained about her second-round opponent Bojana Jovanovski's grunting, was forced to endure Sharapova's loud wails, but kept her concentration to break the French Open champion decisively in the 10th game of the first set.

She broke again early in the second and closed it out, converting her third match point with an ace, to set up a quarter-final against compatriot and eighth seed Angelique Kerber, who made short work of Kim Clijsters.

"It is just unbelievable for me, I'm just so happy," Lisicki said after falling to her knees with both fists clenched in celebration. "I have lost my three previous meetings with her. I just went for my shots...

"I am a fighter too and I fight to last point. I'm getting better with each match."

Sharapova, who will now lose the world number one ranking, said afterwards no-one is safe from defeat, no matter their ranking or reputation.

"I don't think it's a lesson for the players, I think it's a lesson for the storylines," she said when asked about the shocks happening in 2012. "We never really underestimate any opponent. If people are to be considered favourites for matches and tournaments, we will have these storylines.

"The reason we start at the first round is so you have to go through all those opponents to get to the final stage of a tournament, whether it's a grand slam or the middle of nowhere. That's the reason why we go out and play.

"It could be the number one seed against someone who has come out of the woods. It doesn't matter, you still have to play and win. On any given day, there can be an upset. That's the sport and that's why we watch."

Sharapova was happy to hand her the credit for the win too, although she also took some comfort from her own achievements over the European swing of the tour - with her Roland Garros title the highlight.

"I had some chances today but I didn't take them. I think a lot of the credit goes to my opponent," Sharapova said. "She played extremely well today and did many things better than I did on this given day. You have to hand it to her. But I am really proud of what I have achieved. Obviously, as tough as it is after a loss, you try to take away as many positives as you can.

"Obviously you can use it as motivation. It will be nice to rest for a little bit."

Belgian Clijsterswas beaten 6-1 6-1 by Kerber. The Belgian, who will be retiring for a second time after this year's US Open, looked like a pale shadow of the player who has won four major titles.

She struggled to get her serve into gear and committed a string of unforced errors. Kerber was in sparkling form and totally dominated the exchanges against crowd favourite Clijsters, who was suffering from an abdominal injury in the lead-up to the tournament.

Clijsters survived two match points at 5-0 down in the second set but it was a last throw of the dice against the fiercely determined Kerber, who served out for victory.

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