Wimbledon: No. 1 beaten
Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008
WIMBLEDON, England ó They’re still counting casualties back home, and so when Zheng Jie completed the biggest victory of her career Friday at Wimbledon, she resisted any temptation to leap or squeal or pump her fist or collapse to the grass in glee.
Instead she merely cracked a slight smile, hoping her family, friends and fans in China could do the same.
The 133rd-ranked Zheng beat new No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-4. It was the latest in a series of first-week upsets, and one easy to applaud because Zheng is a native of Chengdu, the capital of earthquake-stricken Sichuan province.
“Of course I hope to make people happy with my win,” Zheng said. “I want more people to have their homes, be fine and happy.”
Zheng’s third-round victory, her first against a top-10 player, meant the earliest exit by a top-ranked woman at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis lost in the first round in 2001.
Ivanovic nearly departed in the second round. Zheng was watching on TV when the Serb won a reprieve Wednesday by skipping a forehand off the net cord to save match point, then rallied past Nathalie Dechy.
“Really lucky,” Zheng said. “It gave me more belief, because I see it’s very close. I think, `Maybe I have some chance.”‘
Depending on results in the second week of the tournament, the 20-year-old Ivanovic could lose the No. 1 ranking she earned for the first time by winning the French Open three weeks ago.
She was gracious in defeat.
“Sometimes you need a punch to realize what you have to work on,” she said. “You have to accept that not every shot you’re going to hit is going to be perfect. There are going to be quite a few bad bounces. That’s something I found a little bit hard to deal with.”
Capricious hops mean unpredictable results, and Ivanovic followed to the sideline fellow Serb Novak Djokovic, two-time runner-up Andy Roddick and second-ranked Maria Sharapova.
As usual, the upset trend didn’t apply to top-ranked Roger Fuderer, who won his 37th consecutive match at Wimbledon by beating Marc Gicquel 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Federer, seeking his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title, will play Lleyton Hewitt, the only other former champion to enter the men’s draw.
Others advancing included Marat Safin, who upset Djokovic in the second round, and Mario Ancic, the last player to beat Federer at Wimbledon. Ancic beat fifth-seeded David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3).
The last American in the men’s field, 102nd-anked Bobby Reynolds, lost to Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. Reynolds was the only U.S. male to reach the third round, the worst showing by Americans at Wimbledon since 1926.
“Obviously it’s discouraging,” Reynolds said. “I was the last one, and it’s only the third round. That’s not something we like to tip our hats to.”
The situation was less gloomy for Americans on the women’s side, where three players remain. Bethanie Mattek, who has never previously won more than one match at a Grand Slam event, advanced to the fourth round by beating 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-1.
“This is a pretty amazing feeling,” Mattek said. “It was pretty cool being able to beat the finalist last year.”
Mattek will next play two-time champion Serena Williams, who defeated 2006 champ Amelie Mauresmo 7-6 (5), 6-1. Four-time champion Venus Williams is scheduled to play her third-round match today.
Also advancing was fourth-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova, who can overtake Ivanovic in the rankings by reaching the final.