Djokovic upset; Ivanovic scrapes through |

Djokovic upset; Ivanovic scrapes through

John Pye
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts during his second round match against Russia's Marat Safin on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Wednesday, June 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

WIMBLEDON, England ” Novak Djokovic was upset in straight sets by Marat Safin in the second round at Wimbledon on Wednesday, ending the Serb’s chances of testing his theory about Roger Federer’s vulnerability.

The 75th-ranked Safin won 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Centre Court. It was a stunning loss for the third-ranked Djokovic, who came to the All England Club confident after beating top-ranked Federer in the semifinals at this year’s Australian Open en route to his first Grand Slam tournament title.

Top-ranked Ana Ivanovic, another Serb, also struggled but won. The French Open champion saved two match points ” including one that bounced off the net chord for a winner ” in the second set before overcoming 29-year-old Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 10-8.

Two-time champion Serena Williams had less trouble, advancing 6-4, 6-4 over Urszula Radwanska on Court 2, called the “graveyard of champions” for its history of upsets.

Djokovic came up against one of the toughest second-round opponents he could have drawn.

Former No. 1 Safin has won two Grand Slam titles. One came when he upset Federer in an Australian Open semifinal en route to the 2005 title. Safin beat Djokovic in the first round of that tournament ” their only previous meeting.

“It was certainly a very bad day for me,” the 21-year-old Djokovic said. “I didn’t do anything that I was supposed to ” he was very solid in all segments.”

Djokovic had said Federer, bidding for his sixth consecutive Wimbledon crown, was vulnerable after his recent lopsided French Open loss to No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal.

The hype surrounding those comments set up the possibility of an enticing semifinal here. Now, it will be Safin who will try to go down that path.

But not before offering some thoughts on what led to his victory over Djokovic.

“(He) didn’t impress me with his game today. I could read his serve. I could return,” the 28-year-old Russian said. “I could stay with him from the baseline, and that’s it.”

Safin said he came in under the radar, and that Djokovic had all the pressure.

“He’s the one who has to win matches. For me, nobody expects anything,” said Safin, admitting that he had not dared look beyond the second round. “The guy won the Australian Open, semifinals of French Open, winning tournaments left and right. You play against him, and the last time I won two matches in a row was I don’t remember when. So what do you expect?

“Now, I’ll have to check ” the way I’m playing now, I could go far.”

Djokovic seemed to be vulnerable himself, playing on a surface he is not entirely comfortable on and struggling with his serve in a blustery breeze. After saving three match points, he served a double-fault to give his Russian opponent a fourth, then double-faulted for the 10th time to concede.

“I was serving a lot of double-faults, which is unusual,” said Djokovic, who was broken twice in each of the first and third sets and only broke Safin’s serve once. “I was just not finding my momentum.”

Ivanovic was erratic against a resilient Dechy, who saved two match points on her own serve in the 12th game of the third set.

Ivanovic set up three more match points at 0-40 six games later and, after Dechy saved one, the 20-year-old Serb squealed with delight and kissed the net after hitting a forehand winner to end it in 3 hours, 24 minutes.

“It was an amazing match … one of my longest ever,” said Ivanovic, who dropped her service five times but had twice as many winners (72) as unforced errors (36). “In the second set I saved some match points and from that point on I just thought it’s my second chance.”

She said her heart skipped a beat when she won match point.

“Once it went in I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I’m just so, so thrilled.”

Ivanovic next plays China’s Zheng Jie, a 6-2, 7-5 winner over Britain’s Elena Baltacha.

In other women’s matches, Marion Bartoli, last year’s losing finalist, beat Tatiana Perebiynis 6-2, 7-5, fourth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova ousted Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-3 and 2007 quarterfinalist Nicole Vaidisova recovered to beat Samantha Stosur 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.

Lleyton Hewitt, the only other Wimbledon champion in the men’s draw, also survived Court 2 with a 7-6 (4), 6-0, 6-2 win over Albert Montanes of Spain that was much quicker than his opening five-setter.

After his loss, Djokovic shook his head as he walked forward, and hugged Safin across the net. Djokovic said he might have had too much respect for Safin’s obvious but often erratic talent.

“Safin is a player who is known as a big talent, but again, he makes a lot of unforced errors,” he said. “I had opportunities, but I just made some unforced errors, which were really uncharacteristic, without any sense.

“Safin still has his ups and downs, and is known for his mental instability in some ways, but he’s still a great player. He wants to step it up again. (Today) he was mentally there.”

Grass is not Safin’s favorite surface, either. Wimbledon is the only major where he has not advanced beyond the quarterfinals. But he is a dangerous opponent now.

He next plays 29th-seeded Andreas Seppi, who beat Florent Serra 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4.

Federer is most at home on grass ” he is on a 60-match winning streak on the surface. He had a potentially tough second-round match later Wednesday on Centre Court against Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

Stanislas Wawrinka, Federer’s 13th-seeded Swiss countryman, beat Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 and American Bobby Reynolds had a 4-6, 7-6 (10), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Canadian Frank Dancevic, who had ousted No. 7 David Nalbandian in the opening round.

Another former No. 1, Juan Carlos Ferrero, had to retire with a leg injury in the third set when he was behind 6-4, 6-4, 2-1 to 20-year-old Mischa Zverev.