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By Scott Riley, Tennis Editor - Archive - Email
Weird Wimbledon enters twilight zone
Serena Williams joined the list of stunning Wimbledon losers, joining the likes
of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova from last week.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The craziest Wimbledon in recent memory (or any Grand Slam event, for that matter) hasn't let off the gas this week as Serena Williams became the latest casualty at the world's lone grass-court Slam.

Week 1 was highlighted by a wild, wild Wednesday that saw several top stars succumb to loss, injury or even both, including seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and two-time semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the men's side and Australian Open titlist Victoria Azarenka and former Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova among the women. When Federer lost to Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round last week, the Swiss great surrendered his incredible record streak of reaching the quarterfinals at 36 straight Grand Slam events.

Tennis' "Doomsday" saw no less than six singles players pull out of the respective draws because of injuries last Wednesday, including five men, with Tsonga and 6-foot-10 American John Isner being among the unfortunates.

Another mind-boggling number showed that five former world No. 1 women exited the draw on that fateful, wacky Wednesday -- Azarenka, Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.

The tournament got off to an ominous start an opening day last Monday when French Open king/two-time Wimbledon victor Rafael Nadal was shocked by outside-the-top-100 Belgian Steve Darcis. It was the second straight year Nadal suffered one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history, as he was only 12 months removed from a second-round stunner at the hands of then-little-known Czech Lukas Rosol at the legendary All England Club.

On the second Monday of the fortnight -- the so-called "Manic Monday" that sees all the remaining singles players on the schedule -- Serena gave way to giant- killer Sabine Lisicki in three sets in the fourth round. It marked the 23rd- seeded Lisicki's sixth victory against a top-10 player at Wimbledon, where she's now a four-time quarterfinalist, including a semifinal run just two years ago.

Note: Lisicki has beaten the reigning French Open champion four out of the last five years at Wimbledon -- Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round in 2009, Li Na in the second round in 2011, Maria Sharapova in the fourth round last year, and now Williams.

The 16-time Grand Slam singles winner Serena was riding a career-best and seemingly unstoppable 34-match winning streak. But the reigning French and U.S. Open champ will now have to wait until next year for a crack at Wimbledon title No. 6.

Note: Serena hasn't made it past the fourth round in four of the five major events in which her older sister Venus failed to participate in.

The men's draw still has two of its top favorites, or two members of the "Big Four," still standing -- former champion Novak Djokovic and last year's runner- up, Andy Murray, while the wide-open women's draw will now look to the likes of Agnieszka Radwanska, Li Na, Petra Kvitova or perhaps even Lisicki, to run the table at SW19.

Radwanska is probably the best player outside the "Big Three" of Williams, Azarenka and Sharapova, and was last year's Wimbledon runner-up to Serena; Li was this year's Aussie Open runner-up to Azarenka and is a former French Open champ; and Kvitova is a big-hitting lefty who captured the Wimbledon title two years ago by upsetting Maria in the final.

For the first time since the 2011 U.S. Open, a member of the Big Three will not capture a women's major title, as Serena, Azarenka and Sharapova had combined to win the last six Slams, and one of the three had been the runner- up at three of those six major tournaments.

The mighty Serena had won eight of the previous 16 Grand Slam events she'd entered, including three of the last four Wimbledons.

Note: The former top-ranked Azarenka is a two-time Grand Slam champion who has yet to produce a major title outside of the Oz Open.

In addition to the six-time major champion Djokovic and the reigning U.S. Open and Olympic titlist Murray, fourth-seeded French Open runner-up David Ferrer, 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych and former U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro also are still alive on the famed grass at Wimby.

Note: Murray lost to Federer in last year's finale.

Now let's see if we can now stay on course at the Big W over the final six days.

That's a big if.


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