Li stopped in her tracks, Hewitt falls short

Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:44pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Li Na's hopes of a French Open-Wimbledon double vanished Thursday as the Chinese was beaten by wildcard Sabine Lisicki but Serena Williams, the last player to achieve the feat, continued her comeback in ominous fashion.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer continued their swashbuckling progress through the draw and fifth seed Robin Soderling fought back from two-sets down to beat former champion Lleyton Hewitt in an enthralling match.

Li, who became the darling of the world's most populous nation by triumphing at Roland Garros this month, squandered two match points in a 3-6 6-4 8-6 defeat under Center Court's roof on a cool, showery day in south west London.

Her surprise exit to a player battling back from injury continued a recent trend of Wimbledon woe for winners of the women's singles in Paris.

Francesca Schiavone made a first-round exit last year and Svetlana Kuznetsova, in 2009, and Ana Ivanovic, in 2008, survived only until the third round.

Li's appearance on Center Court was delayed by a gritty win for Soderling who dropped the first two sets against 2002 champion Hewitt.

Australian former world number one Hewitt, still a dogged competitor despite the injuries that have seen him drop out of the top 100, looked set to pull off the biggest shock of the tournament but Soderling won 6-7 3-6 7-5 6-4 6-4 after nearly four hours of baseline combat.

"We've all just been focusing on trying to get through here in sort of one piece and we'll pick up all the pieces after that and put it together," the 30-year-old Hewitt, who nearly missed the tournament because of a foot injury, said after his earliest exit since a first-round defeat as champion in 2003.   Continued...

<p>Li Na of China hits a return to Sabine Lisicki of Germany at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh</p>