Vaidisova upsets Mauresmo at Wimbledon

Chris Lehourites
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic returns to defending champion Amelie Mauresmo of France, during their Women's Singles match on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Tuesday July 3, 2007.(AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY **

WIMBLEDON, England ” Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, struggling with her serve and falling to Nicole Vaidisova 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-1 as rain again wreaked havoc at the All England Club.

This year’s tournament has been hampered by rain in seven of its first eight days. Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams played only three points before lightning and thunder were followed by heavy rain, one of several matches suspended in the afternoon.

Earlier, Mauresmo had 14 double-faults and 37 unforced errors in a match stopped by rain three times.

“Definitely those interruptions don’t help,” the two-time major champion said. “I don’t know how many (double-faults) I had today, but definitely too many. … I don’t know if it was her or me.”

No. 3 Jelena Jankovic also was upset, playing through four rain delays and losing to No. 18 Marion Bartoli of France 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Play on Centre Court and Court No. 1 started at 11 a.m. Tuesday ” two hours earlier than usual ” because of the backlog of matches.

Rafael Nadal, last year’s runner-up, played only nine minutes in the resumption of his third-round match against Robin Soderling. The second-seeded Spaniard warmed up for his match on Saturday but never played a point. After the traditional middle Sunday off, they began Monday but stopped in the fifth set because of rain late in the day.

Also in the third round of the men’s draw, 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt beat Guillermo Canas 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Nikolay Davydenko advanced by defeating Gael Monfils 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

“That’s the longest and toughest rain-delayed match I’ve ever had to put up,” said Hewitt, who was originally scheduled to play Canas on Saturday.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion, reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time by beating Janko Tipsarevic 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (5) and will next face four-time defending champion Roger Federer.

Mauresmo held three set points against Vaidisova when she led 6-3 in the tiebreaker, but then lost the next five points. After winning the second set, she fell behind 3-0 in the third and was broken again in the sixth game, allowing the 18-year-old Czech to serve out the match.

Vaidisova will play No. 6 Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals. The Serb held on to beat Nadia Petrova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in a match interrupted by rain four times.

Mauresmo double-faulted twice in the sixth game of the final set to give Vaidisova a break point. She then sent a backhand drop shot into the net, and netted a volley on the first point of the next game.

She then hit a ball into the crowd in frustration and was given a warning by the umpire. After the match, Mauresmo walked off Centre Court without acknowledging the crowd.

Mauresmo was sidelined earlier this year following an appendectomy in March and had a groin problem that contributed to an early exit at the French Open.

“Sometimes it shows that it’s a lack of confidence and a lack of practice,” Mauresmo said. “I just want to come back to the level I had quickly.”

Vaidisova reached the quarterfinals for the first time at the All England Club. The No. 14-seeded Czech reached the semifinals at last year’s French Open and this year’s Australian Open.

“She’s got some maturity on the court. She’s showing she can go for shots at the right time,” Mauresmo said. “She’s been close already.”

Play was twice delayed early in the match, each time for about 20 minutes. The third delay came when Mauresmo was about to serve for the second set, and lasted nearly an hour.

“It was kind of tiring,” Vaidisova said of the rain delays. “You walk all those stairs up, the locker room in back. It’s pretty much a long walk.”

Bartoli, who will be playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, will next face No. 31 Michaella Krajicek.

Also, 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the quarterfinals by beating 16-year-old Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3, 6-2.

“I put in more and more pressure on her,” Kuznetsova said. “She was playing worse, worse, worse.”

Kuznetsova will next face either Venus Williams or Sharapova.