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Serena crashes out

June 26, 2005 05:26 IST

Squinting and peering through the half-light, Serena Williams suffered her earliest Wimbledon exit in eight years on Saturday, beaten by obscure compatriot Jill Craybas in the third-round.

"Horrible," she mumbled as tears filled her eyes after losing 6-3, 7-6.

"The only words I can use are foul, so I'm not going to use those words.

Switched at the last minute to "The Graveyard of the Champions" court two, and with dusk falling, 2002 and 2003 winner Serena never got going against an opponent who had won just a handful of Grand Slam matches in 21 previous attempts.

"I didn't do anything right. I think I was better off staying at home... I've never been one to lose well," Serena sobbed.

Since losing on her U.S. Open debut in 1996, 30-year-old Craybas had managed to win only seven matches in majors heading into Wimbledon. But as night fell, she proved too consistent for an erratic 23-year-old Serena.

"I'd like to think this is the beginnning," Craybas smiled. "This win is absolutely fantastic."

While the younger of the Williams sisters wilted with barely a whimper, defending champions Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova proved their Wimbledon worth by scraping victories without ever hitting top form.

There was more base metal than gold in their performances, but both managed to do just enough on a day when they would rather have stayed at home.

An off-colour Federer, who had been due to play on Friday before rain wiped out that day's schedule, failed to stamp his authority on Nicolas Kiefer but had enough in reserve to advance 6-2, 6-7, 6-1, 7-5.

He plays former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero next after the Spaniard beat Germany's Florian Mayer 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.

"That was definitely a test today... definitely," Swiss Federer, who is bidding for a third successive Wimbledon title, said.

"I had the feeling I should've won in three sets but in the end I am happy to have won in four."

SCRAPPY WIN

Sharapova posted a scrappy 6-2 6-4 win over Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik and will be happy to have got the first week out of the way at the All England Club.

"The score doesn't say much about the match," second seed Sharapova said. "It was a lot tougher than it seemed.

"Definitely a tough match... every single point, I needed to find a way to win it.

"You know, it's all right. Still got through it without serving great."

Britain's last chance for a first men's champion in 69 years evaporated like Scotch mist over Centre Court when teenager Andy Murray blew a two-set lead and lost to 2002 runner-up David Nalbandian 6-7, 1-6, 6-0, 6-4, 6-1.

The Scottish lion rampant roared for two sets before running out of energy and Nalbandian tamed him for his first victory from two sets down.

"I'm a bit tired and a bit disappointed," the shattered teenager said. Given time to reflect, Murray may find some solace in the 25,510 pounds ($46,510) cheque he will receive from organisers. Before Wimbledon, Murray had won $32,389 in his career.

Women's top seed and 1999 champion Lindsay Davenport and twice champion Venus Williams advanced safely. Fourteenth seed Venus beat Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 6-3.

Champion in 2000 and 2001, Venus faces Serena's conqueror Jill Craybas next.

Davenport strolled through 6-2, 6-1 against Russia's Dinara Safina. "It's probably going to be just a little bit tougher from here on out," she smiled.

Davenport faces former world number one Kim Clijsters next.

The Belgian beat Italian Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-4.

"Monday's going to be a lot different story," Davenport said. "Kim's not going to let me do that so easily and will get more balls back and will really press me a lot more than I've pressed so far."

GRASS-BURNING SERVE

Men's second seed Andy Roddick pounded his way past Russian Igor Andreev to reach the last 16. Last year's runner-up, Roddick cranked up his grass-burning serve to devastating effect winning 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 in one hour 54 minutes.

"I'm still alive, that's the goal," Roddick said. "I feel good going into the second week."

The American will play Guillermo Coria next. The Argentine came back from two sets down to beat 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Like Nalbandian, the win was his first from two sets down.

Mary Pierce advanced. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman, a first-round loser last year, blasted Serbian teenager Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-4.

It has been nine years since Pierce last reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and she has never looked so at ease on grass.

Runner-up at the French Open earlier this month, the 12th seed is enjoying her tennis again and the slick lawns are aiding her power game this year.

"I'm getting there," she smiled. "Feeling more at ease with each match.

Source:
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