Serena knocked out by Zvonareva at Eastbourne

Serena knocked out by Zvonareva at Eastbourne

Serena Williams’ comeback tournament at Eastbourne ended in the second round on Wednesday with a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 loss to top-seeded Vera Zvonareva.

By (AP)

Published: Wed 15 Jun 2011, 10:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:11 AM

Zvonareva came through a tense tussle in 3 hours, 12 minutes for only her second win in eight matches against the 13-time Grand Slam champion.

The No. 3-ranked Russian also gained a measure of revenge for her 6-3, 6-2 loss in last year’s Wimbledon final that turned out to be Williams’ last match for almost a year as she recovered from a cut on her foot that led to blood clots on her lungs.

Williams drew on her trademark fighting spirit in the deciding set as she came back from 5-2 down to make it 5-5, saving three match points at 5-4. But Zvonareva immediately broke again and a tiring Williams couldn’t muster another fightback.

On the day she was awarded a Wimbledon seeding of seventh, 19 places above her world ranking, Williams was beaten on grass for the first time since she lost the 2008 Wimbledon final to her sister Venus.

Returning from her own injury layoff, Venus had earlier reached the quarterfinals with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win over Ana Ivanovic, and her younger sister looked set to join her in the last eight when she served for the match at 5-4 in the second set against Zvonareva.

But when facing a break point, Williams sent down a double fault and Zvonareva, who had been looking increasingly upset with herself, rediscovered her confidence.

Leading 6-5 in the tiebreaker, the Russian drove a winning forehand into the corner, with Williams on her backside after slipping on the baseline.

Williams appeared tired in the third set. She began coming to the net behind her serve to finish the points quickly, and was often out of position. But facing an opponent with a reputation for throwing away winning positions, she kept on fighting.

Trailing 5-4, Williams hopped on one foot and looked surprised and relieved in equal measures as a bold backhand winner looped onto the line to save a second match point.

Zvonareva then overhit a backhand to make it deuce, before she thought she caught the line with a half-volley. The ball was called out, though, and despite her complaints, Williams had a break point which she took with a brutal backhand winner.

But Williams was broken to 15 in the very next game and Zvonareva wouldn’t be denied again. She moved into a 40-0 lead and then powered a forehand winner onto the baseline to claim victory on her fourth match point.

Venus, playing her second match following a five-month layoff, will face French Open champion Li Na or Daniela Hantuchova in the quarterfinals on Thursday after easing past Ivanovic.

The five-time Wimbledon champion didn’t face a single break point in the first set while breaking Ivanovic twice.

“Obviously it’s great, no breaks of serve,” Williams said. “To be honest, I thought she played really well and when she had the chance to strike the ball she was hitting the corners, so I felt good to be able to get on top of her today.”

Ivanovic had her only break point at 1-0 in the second set but Williams sent down a 196 kph (122 mph) first serve to save it before breaking twice more.

Ivanovic, who reached her first semifinal of the year in Birmingham last week, kept the match competitive with some crowd-pleasing winners, including a delicate backhand, crosscourt pass that left Williams completely flat-footed and set her on the way to a break point early in the second set.

However, Williams always looked in control as she improved her record against Ivanovic to 7-1.

“Right now I feel that I’m playing very tough and I’m playing well on the big points,” Williams said. “These matches have been huge and crucial for me to just get back in the swing of things.”

Williams had little expectation of what she might achieve at her first tournament since January, and her goal is just to play as many matches as possible leading into Wimbledon.

“I was hoping not to be injured this week. The first smash was definitely nerve wracking,” she said. “Just hoping to come off the court on two legs — that was the first goal. Then to win a match is the ultimate goal. To have the opportunity to play another match is a great start.

“So I’m starting to have a couple of dominoes. I’m excited to be able to be able to play a third match. I just need matches.”

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