Three Stars: Day 4

Thursday June 23rd, 2011

Sabine Lisicki (above) engineered the biggest upset of the tournament so far, taking out third-seeded Li Na on Centre Court. (Cynthia Lum/Icon SMI)

WIMBLEDON, England — Here’s a look at three players who distinguished themselves on the fourth day of Wimbledon.

1. Sabine Lisicki: Wait a minute, wasn’t she carried off on a stretcher at the French Open? Something about cramps, or possibly just nerves? She resurfaced splendidly to win the Birmingham warmup tournament, got a wild-card entry into Wimbledon, and now she has knocked off Li Na in a Centre Court stunner, 3-6, 6-4, 8-6. This was no fluke. Lisicki has moved into Serena Williams territory with a crackling first serve that topped out at 124 m.p.h. against Li, and that serve kept her in the tournament at a point when she was down 3-5 and 15-40 in the third set. Great stuff -- and here’s yet another female player who absolutely crushes the ball and can take down anyone at any time.

2. Robin Soderling: Accused by some as lacking the mental toughness to join the elite, he came back from two sets down to outlast Lleyton Hewitt, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. Soderling desperately wants to join the big boys in the top tier, and this was a pretty impressive step. Major huzzahs to Hewitt, as well, for playing through a number of injuries to compete in his favorite tournament. “This is what I play for,” said Hewitt, who won the 2002 final against David Nalbandian. “And there’s nothing like Centre Court -- the best court to play tennis on. Fantastic atmosphere. You walk onto that court, you get goosebumps every time.” 3. Roger Federer: The master, the six-time champion, the man who can never be counted out. Playing under the retractable roof of Centre Court for the first time as darkness began to fall outside, Federer polished off a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory in 88 minutes. There is growing sentiment that Federer is in vintage form, with many points to prove. However it comes out, he still plays the most beautiful game.

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