Two former champions also battled for supremacy in an
ebb-and-flow classic on Center Court. It was 2011 title holder Petra
Kvitova who prevailed 5-7 7-6(2) 7-5 in the contest of big servers
against five-times champion and crowd favorite Venus Williams.
While you could barely separate Kvitova and Williams, champion Andy
Murray soothed home nerves with a one-sided and danger-free win over
Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-2 6-3 6-2.
Australian Open champion Li faced fired-up Czech Barbora Zahlavova
Strycova, who has never before advanced beyond the third round of a
The pair fought a tight duel that could have gone either way, but
the determined Czech held firmer in two tiebreaks to win 7-6(5)
Tomas Berdych also came off second best in two tiebreaks as he lost
a late-night thriller 7-6(5) 6-4 7-6(6) to Marin Cilic in a match
that ended at 9.38pm local time - the latest finish at the All
England Club outside of Center Court.
The world number six was the highest men's seed to fall and vented
his frustrations by blaming officials for "making too many mistakes"
and allowing the match to go on despite it being "too dark for
Hawkeye to work".
There were no such problems for the title favorites.
Djokovic was cantering towards a regulation victory against
Frenchman Gilles Simon on Center Court when, with the score at 6-4
6-2 3-2, he slipped before flinging himself at a forehand.
He fell heavily and rolled on the turf clutching his shoulder and
grimacing in pain.
His coach Boris Becker, so demonstrative as a player, was a picture
of calm inscrutability until Djokovic's fall. The German three-times
champion stood up, leaned forward and watched anxiously as his
charge received treatment.
After some shoulder manipulation by his chair, the Serb resumed as
if nothing had happened and finished off Simon 6-4 6-2 6-4 with a
characteristically athletic airborne smash.
"It was a sharp pain when I fell, an awkward fall," the six-times
grand slam champion said.
"I was just hoping there is nothing going on with the joint.
Luckily, there is no damage and I could play."
Djokovic, who consulted a doctor and had an ultrasound scan to
confirm there was no damage, was able to joke that he would take
diving lessons from Becker, renowned for grasscourt acrobatics
during his playing career.
The world number two will now meet France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga,
another fine tumbler, in Monday's fourth round.
Women's third seed Simona Halep suffered a less spectacular scare,
dropping a set against unheralded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko in a
delayed second-round match.
Halep, who has vaulted up the rankings over the past year and
reached the French Open final this month, eventually saw off the
world number 170 6-3 4-6 6-4, but not before throwing away two match
points as she struggled with her nerves.
"You know, on grass it is not easy. Every match is difficult. You
never know who will win or who will lose because of the court,"
Forecast rain failed to arrive at Wimbledon, preferring perhaps to
dump on the Glastonbury Festival 200 km to the west, but a swirling
wind made serving problematic at times.
The wind did not prevent Kvitova and the 34-year-old Williams from
treating spectators to a top-class demonstration of fast and
powerful grasscourt tennis.
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Venus had Kvitova on the ropes for much of the match, punching
groundstroke winners on both sides of the court. But the Czech sixth
seed, who has failed to find the form she showed in the three years
since her triumph, found fresh legs during the tiebreak.
A disappointed Williams, who has suffered debilitating illness in
recent years, said she would now concentrate on the doubles with
sister Serena and had no intention of quitting tennis.
"I'm not getting out of here. I think this year has been a great
year for me. I've had some tough losses, but I've learned a lot from
them ... I'm proud of myself for what I'm achieving on the court."
Third seed Murray produced an accomplished display of all-court
tennis, triumphing on his fourth match point on his Spannish
opponent's serve in one hour 35 minutes.
"There were a few things I could do better but it's been a good
first week," said Murray, who has yet to drop a set. After last
year's title and the Olympic success in 2012 Murray is now on a
16-match winning streak at Wimbledon.
Murray next meets 2.03-metre tall South African Kevin Anderson, who
beat Italian Fabio Fognini.
"He's a big guy with a big serve, so I'll have to be sharp for that
one," Murray said.
Battling Australian Leyton Hewitt bowed out of the tournament he won
in 2002 - a year when Venus was runner-up to Serena - but not before
giving 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz a thorough workout in a second-round
match held over from Thursday.
Pole Janowicz, beaten by Murray in the semi-finals last year,
prevailed 7-5 6-4 6-7(7) 4-6 6-3 and will meet Spaniard Tommy
Robredo in the third round.
He will be joined by compatriot and fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska,
who silenced Michelle Larcher De Brito, one of the noisiest grunters
on the tour, 6-2 6-0.
It was Hewitt's 42nd five-set grand slam match and gave the
33-year-old the record for most five-setters since the start of the
professional era in 1968.
Queen's Club champion Grigor Dimitrov, 10 years younger than Hewitt
and with grand slam success in his sights, had to fight for his
fourth-round spot in a 6-7(3) 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-1 tussle with Alexandr
The Bulgarian said his triumph in the Wimbledon warm-up event at
Queen's had given him extra hope and excitement after a five-set
defeat last year.
"I've prided myself on some of the matches I've played so far. Some
of my mental strength comes from that," he said.
(Editing by David Goodman)
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