The shocks and drama of Wimbledon 2013 just kept on coming at the start of the tournament’s second week as reigning champion and red hot favourite Serena Williams was sent packing by German youngster Sabine Lisicki in front of a stunned Centre Court.
A 9/1 underdog against the multi Slam winning American, Lisicki was expected to be easy pickings for Williams who had looked bang in form throughout the first three rounds of the competition.
But the 23-year-old from Troisdorf had already established a credible record at SW19 having reached two quarter-finals and a semi over the last four years and she used that experience to good effect in the midst of the occasion, her energetic play and never say die attitude simply too good for Williams during the first set which she won 6-2.
The inevitable Williams fight back came in the second and indeed the exerted Lisicki was outplayed for long periods by her powerhouse rival before the set was secured at 6-1 to level matters.
And at 4-2 in the decider in favour of the five times Wimbledon winner, Lisicki’s bold challenge appeared to have been thwarted but to the amazement of everyone on Centre, she managed to find a whole new level, reeling off four consecutive games to seal what was clearly the most meaningful victory of her career to date.
Lisicki must now complete a quick turnaround with the Women’s quarter-finals taking place just 24 hours after the fourth round ties – and she may well find herself at a conditional disadvantage to her last eight opponent Kaia Kanepi who eased past Brit hopeful Laura Robson in straight sets, earlier in the day.
With Williams exit following No.2 seed Maria Sharapova’s swift departure in round two, the Women’s draw has undoubtedly been blown wide open and all remaining eight players will fancy their chances of being crowned the new Queen of SW19.
Marion Bartoli, Li Na, Kirsten Flipkens, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sloane Stephens and 2011 champion Petra Kvitova are the others still in contention for that accolade.
In the Men’s draw, Andy Murray came through a straight sets winner against Mikhail Youzhny on Centre but the Scot was far from his best overall against the quirky Russian.
Murray won threw to the last eight 6-4 7-5 6-1 however the second set really saw the Dunblane Dynamo suppressed under enormous pressure as Youzhny at one stage racked up four games on the bounce to leave the tournament second favourite in trouble.
The home star’s response was typical of a champion nevertheless as he raised himself technically and physically to establish and unassailable lead which ultimately drew the sting out of Youzhny in the third set.
Fernando Verdasco is next for Murray midweek after the Spaniard’s comfortable straight sets triumph over Frenchman Kenny De Schepper, whilst World No.1 Novak Djokovic is also safely through to the quarter’s following a 6-1 6-4 7-6 win over veteran Tommy Haas.
The Serbian will meet Tomas Berdych in the last eight after the Czech knocked out Aussie hopeful Bernard Tomic, whilst David Ferrer, Juan Martin Del Potro and Polish duo Lukasz Kubot and Jerzy Janowicz complete the quarter-final line-up.