Sharapova stumbles to shock defeat
Maria Sharapova berated Wimbledon's "dangerous" courts en route to her shock exit from the Championships, losing 6-3 6-4 to Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito.
On a day that has seen seven players withdraw through injury and a number of players hurt themselves during falls on court, the 2004 champion slipped three times on the Court Two turf, the heaviest fall coming midway through her second-round encounter, when she told umpire Alison Lang: "This court is dangerous."
By then the Russian was trailing by a set on the court nicknamed the 'graveyard of champions', which had done for Lleyton Hewitt earlier in the day, and took a medical time out with the world No. 131 leading 4-3 with a break in the second.
After nine minutes of treatment, Sharapova returned hitting the ball harder than at any point in the match, claiming a brutal 18-stroke rally for break point, but Larcher de Brito dug deep to cling on and force the Russian to move within one game of victory.
With the intensity - and the volume of both players shrieks - rising with each passing shot, Larcher de Brito threw everything at Sharapova, who fought off four match points before finally netting a forehand to hand the 20-year-old victory.
Larcher de Brito backed Sharapova's claims that the court was greasy, and admitted she had adapted her footwork to avoid taking a tumble.
"She fell pretty hard, and I know that these grass courts can be quite slippery, quite dangerous," said the Portuguese. "There's a lot of grass that's been cut that hasn't been swept away."
Victoria Azarenka was forced to pull out of Wimbledon after failing to recover from a knee injury caused by a fall in her first round match with Maria Joao Koehler - one of seven withdrawals on day three, leaving former champion Petra Kvitova as the highest seed in the lower half of the women's draw.
The world No. 2 slipped with the scores at 1-1 in the second set, resulting in screams of agony from the Belarusian.
Despite a 12-minute delay as she was treated by the trainer, Azarenka picked herself up to finish off a 6-1 6-2 victory.
After the match, she said: "It was such a shock, I felt like my whole body collapsed."
Her second round opponent, Flavia Pennetta, advances and will face Alize Cornet in the third round after the Frenchwoman defeated Su-Weh Hsieh 6-3 6-2.
Caroline Wozniacki injured her ankle during a nasty fall - also on Court Two - in the opening exchanges of her second round tie with Petra Cetkovska, and while she got back to her feet to carry on, in truth, she never recovered. The Czech showed the former world No. 1 no sympathy, keeping Wozniacki on the run to wrap up a 6-2 6-2 victory.
Cetkovska will face the winner of American teen Sloane Stephens' showdown with German wild-card Andrea Petkovic for a place in the last 16.
A day after her pal Laura Robson's stunning win on Court One, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard produced her own moment of show-court magic with a 6-3 6-3 victory over former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. With the match moved to Centre Court following Azarenka's withdrawal, the 19-year-old rose to the occasion, matching the Serbian's pace from the baseline and proving too consistent in the longer rallies.
Up next for Bouchard is Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro, who bounced back from a first set to forget to prevail 1-6 6-3 6-3 against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Elsewhere, Puerto Rico's Monica Puig followed up her first-round victory over fifth seed Sara Errani with a hard-earned 6-2 5-7 6-4 win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain to set up a third-round showdown with Eva Birnerova, a 6-3 6-4 winner over Lesia Tsurenko.