Wimbledon, Jun 27: Serena and Venus Williams both suffered shock fourth round exits on a dramatic afternoon at Wimbledon on Monday.
Serena saw the defence of her title come to an end with a 6-3 7-6 (8-6) defeat by Marion Bartoli of France. Bartoli raised her arms with joy after winning 6-3 7-6 (8-6) to set up a quarter-final against Sabine Lisicki.
Venus went down 6-2 6-3 to Tsvetana Pironkova, who beat her by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals last year.
Serena, who recently returned from a year out with injury and illness, will now drop to about 175th in the world. The 13-time major winner is the fourth women's defending champion in the Open Era to fall before the last eight.
But she can have few complaints about the nature of her exit after Bartoli came through in just under two hours for a famous victory.
“I'm extremely happy about what I did today, especially against Serena, who's extremely tough to beat,” said the right-hander from Le Puy en Velay.
“It was a great performance but tomorrow is another day and I can't think too much ahead.”
Williams fired long to give her opponent 15-40 in game six and, despite scrambling to save the first break point, she again went long to hand over the initiative.
Bartoli followed it up with a hold to love and almost wrapped up the set soon after, only for Williams to save three set points before holding for 3-5 with an ace down the middle.
That meant Bartoli would have to serve out the set and she came close to making a mess of it as a double fault gave Williams the first of three break-back points.
But she refused to roll over and eventually - and deservedly - came through on her fifth set point with a thunderous ace down the middle.
Bartoli let out a huge cry of “Allez!” and raised her fist in the direction of her father and coach Walter, who she banished from the stands during her epic third-round win against Flavia Pennetta.
Williams looked frustrated and deflated but may have been buoyed by the knowledge that she dropped a set in her each of her opening two rounds before coming through in three.
And she looked far more comfortable at the start of the second, conceding only four points in her first three service games.
In fact, neither player had a look-in on the other's serve until game 11, when Williams drove two backhands beyond the baseline to hand Bartoli a 6-5 lead.
However, the pressure of serving out appeared to get the better of the Frenchwoman as she squandered three match points before Williams struck back with a blistering backhand return.
A tie-break beckoned and after mini-breaks were exchanged early on, Williams saved a third match point with an ace down the ‘T' for 6-6.
But Bartoli engineered a fifth opportunity and came up with an unreturnable serve to seal victory.
World number one Caroline Wozniacki crashed out of Wimbledon in the fourth round on Monday as Slovakian 24th seed Dominika Cibulkova secured a shock 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 victory.
Wozniacki has now failed to make it past the fourth round at Wimbledon in five attempts and the Dane's numerous critics will seize on this latest failure as further proof that she doesn't deserve to be top of the rankings.
The 20-year-old lost her only Grand Slam final against Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open and she flopped at the French Open recently, losing in the third round against Daniela Hantuchova.
On Monday, it was the same old story as she crumbled under pressure against the inspired Cibulkova, who will play 2004 champion Maria Sharapova in the last eight.
Former French Open sem-finalist Cibulkova, 22, enjoyed a surprise win over highly-rated German Julia Georges to secure her first appearance in the last 16 here.
But this was an even better result as she secured her third Grand Slam quarter-final berth.
Wozniacki made her intentions clear as she started with an ace and it wasn't long before the Dane pressured Cibulkova into conceding the first break before taking the first set in only 24 minutes.
Cibulkova's serve had seemed out of sorts but she began to establish some rhythm in a much tighter second set.
The Slovak had two set points at 6-5, but Wozniacki held on to force a tie-break.
Cibulkova's fiesty play was a complete contrast to the first set and she took the tie-break as Wozniacki struggled to deal with some powerful forehands.
That set up a rollercoaster final set which saw Wozniacki break in the second game, only to then surrender her own serve.
When the Dane was broken again in the fifth game, Cibulkova had a golden opportunity to reach just her second Grand Slam quarter-final, but Wozniacki broke back immediately.
Both players were competing ferociously now but it was Cibulkova who landed the decisive blow as Wozniacki sent a backhand long at 5-5, giving the Slovakian a chance to serve out a famous win.