Djokovic overcomes fall; Venus out
Novak Djokovic lay crumpled on Centre Court, clutching his upper left arm and grimacing. He felt something pop and feared the worst.
Djokovic had lunged for a shot behind the baseline, tumbled on the grass and rolled over twice, his racket flying from his hand. His new coach, Boris Becker, stood in the player's box and looked on gravely.
Slowly, Djokovic rose from the turf, still holding his arm across his chest and made his way to his chair.
"When I stood up, I felt that click or pop, whatever you call it," he said later. "I feared maybe it might be a dislocated shoulder or something like that."
After a medical timeout and treatment from a trainer, the top-seeded Djokovic needed just four more games to complete a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over France's Gilles Simon on Friday, sending him into the fourth round and keeping alive his bid for a second Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam championship.
"Luckily there is nothing damaged," Djokovic said. "I just came from the doctor's office, ultrasound. It's all looking good. I'm quite confident that it will not affect my physical state or regimen or daily routine. I think it's going to be fine."
Djokovic will have two days off before an intriguing matchup Monday against another Frenchman, the free-swinging 14th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
"They told me usually in these kind of particular cases you might feel soreness in the next couple of days," Djokovic said. "But I can play around with practices and recovery and see how it goes. But I'm quite confident it's going to be all right for next one."
He felt all right enough to joke that he had talked to Becker about improving his style.
"We obviously need to work on my diving volleys, learning how to fall down on the court," he said. "I'm not very skillful in that."
Djokovic's injury scare came on a day that also featured the elimination of second-seeded woman Li Na and a three-set, 2 ½-hour Centre Court battle between two former female champions — with 2011 winner Petra Kvitova overcoming five-time champ Venus Williams 5-7, 7-6 (2), 7-5.
Defending men's champion Andy Murray, who hasn't dropped a set this week, extended his winning streak at the All England Club to 16 matches by beating Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. The streak goes back to his gold-medal run at the 2012 London Olympics, which was played at Wimbledon.
No. 6 Tomas Berdych, runner-up at Wimbledon four years ago, became the highest-seeded man to go out so far when he fell to No. 26 Marin Cilic 7-6 (5) 6-4, 7-6 (6) in match that finished in near darkness at 9:36 p.m. Berdych, who had called for play to be suspended because of the fading light, hit a forehand long on the second match point. Cilic finished with 20 aces.
Li, the Australian Open champion, fell 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to 43rd-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the first major upset of the tournament. Since winning her second Grand Slam title in Melbourne in January, Li has lost in the first round of the French Open and now failed to reach the second week at Wimbledon.
Li double-faulted on match point — after the point was replayed when she won a challenge on a forehand that had been called out.
Williams exits Wimbledon after three-set battle
LONDON — For 2 ½ hours, Venus Williams traded big serves and hard groundstrokes with Petra Kvitova on Centre Court. Williams was playing with some of the power and pace that had brought her five Wimbledon titles. But when it was over, she was left with a sense of disappointment.
"The battle is always a little more enjoyable when you win," Williams said Friday after coming within two points of victory but losing 5-7, 7-6 (2), 7-5 to Kvitova, the 2011 champion.
All four of their previous meetings went to three sets and this one was no different, with plenty of suspense, intensity, and only a few break points.
Williams looked stronger early in the match and was up 5-4, 15-30 on Kvitova's serve, in the second set. But the Czech came up with some big serves, held and won the second set tiebreaker.
The players then held serve for the first 11 games of the third set before Kvitova broke No. 30 Williams for the first time in the last game.
"It's a shame there had to be a loser in this match and more of a shame that it had to be me," Williams said.
Despite the loss, Williams had reasons to feel positive about her week in London.
At the age of 34, she has been playing well this season, winning a title in Dubai and reaching the final in Auckland and Miami. This week, she got to the third round at a Grand Slam tournament for only the second time in her past 10 appearances. After her battle with Kvitova, she reiterated that retirement is not in her plans.
More than that, Williams still believes in her ability to add to her total of seven Grand Slams.
"People have been trying to retire me since I was like 25. For some reason in tennis we always do that to our players. It's weird," said Williams, who disclosed three years ago that she was diagnosed with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease.
"We don't encourage them to stick around," she added. "It's like, 'Get out of here.' So 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 finding my way back on my feet. I'm proud of myself for what I'm achieving on the court."