LONDON - Chinese star Li Na crashed out of Wimbledon Friday in another twist to her love-hate relationship with the tournament while Novak Djokovic made the last-16 but only after surviving a horror fall. Second seed Li lost 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) in the third round to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic with the defeat coming hot on the heels of her shock first round exit at the French Open.
In eight appearances at Wimbledon, the 32-year-old Li has still never got beyond the quarter-finals. The match ended in bizarre circumstances with Li, facing match point, successfully challenging a forehand which had been called long. But the 28-year-old Zahlavova Strycova, the world number 43 who will next face Caroline Wozniacki, was able to quickly celebrate victory for real when Li served up a seventh double fault on the replayed point.
Victory represented a first last-16 spot at a major for the Czech in her 32nd Grand Slam appearance. "I am very happy. I played a great match and I believed I could do it. It's my biggest win," said the player whose low-key career only previously hit the headlines when she served a six-month doping ban in 2013.
Top seed Djokovic survived a shoulder injury scare to reach the fourth round for the eighth time with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over Gilles Simon, his seventh successive victory over the Frenchman. Djokovic, the 2011 champion, needed a medical timeout to receive treatment and take a painkiller after hurting his left shoulder in a spectacular diving attempt to reach a Simon drive in the sixth game of the third set on Centre Court.
But the Serb overcame the scare to set up a clash with French 14th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the quarter-finals. "Yes it was a sharp pain when I fell. It was an awkward fall. There was no damage in the joint, so I could play a few games after that. The muscle was still quite sore because of the impact, so all in all I'm just glad to get through," said the world number two. Tsonga made the last 16 by beating Jimmy Wang of Taiwan, 6-2, 6-2, 7-5
Five-time women's champion Venus Williams and 2002 men's winner Lleyton Hewitt saw their 2014 Wimbledon campaigns end. Hewitt played a record 42nd five-set Grand Slam match but still went down in a delayed second round tie, losing to 2013 semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 6-3. Janowicz faces Spanish 23rd seed Tommy Robredo in the third round.
Hewitt, 33, was contesting his 61st Grand Slam but insisted he was not yet thinking of retirement. "I am one injury away from hanging up the bats," he said. "But I still enjoy doing the hard work. For moments out there like today, to play five-setters against the best guys in the world." In her 17th Wimbledon and 63rd Grand Slam, Williams went down in the third round to 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, the sixth seeded Czech, 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 who next plays Peng Shuai of China. Defeat means seven-time Grand Slam winner Williams has failed to reach the last 16 at a major since Wimbledon in 2011. Bulgarian 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov won a marathon battle with Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to make the last 16 for the first time. He will face unseeded Argentine Leonardo Mayer who beat Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4, 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.
Kevin Anderson, the 20th seed, defeated explosive Italian 16th seed Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to become the first South African man to reach the Wimbledon fourth round for 14 years. The 28-year-old will play defending champion Andy Murray or Spanish 27th seed Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the quarter-finals. Former women's world number one Wozniacki reached the last 16 for the fourth time with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Croatian 16-year-old Ana Konjuh, the world number 189.
Belinda Bencic, the 17-year-old Swiss won her delayed second round tie, 6-4, 7-5 against America's Victoria Duval and next faces third-seeded Simona Halep who clinched a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko. French Open runner-up Halep will be playing in the third round for the first time.