Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Federer out as Murray sails through

Andy Murray will play Lu Yen-hsun on Wimbledon's Centre Court

Andy Murray's dream of Wimbledon glory came one step closer as Roger Federer made a shock exit from the tournament and controversy raged over "slippery" courts.

The British No 1 sailed into the third round with a victory over Lu Yen-hsun during a day that saw the defending champion knocked out of the contest and a string of top players make early departures.

Federer, 31, was pushed out by Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, 27, in a match which ended the Swiss player's run of 36 consecutive grand slam quarter-final appearances. His wife, Mirka, appeared to wipe tears from her eyes as he bowed out following his loss to the relatively unknown player, ranked 116 in the world.

The defeat is Federer's earliest at Wimbledon since he was beaten in the first round in 2002. His dramatic exit came after world number three Maria Sharapova crashed out following a noisy match in which she strained a muscle after losing her footing on three occasions.

Her departure at the hands of world number 131 Michelle Larcher De Brito was the second unexpected exit following Rafael Nadal's surprise loss on Monday. The Russian, who was seen mouthing what appeared to be the words "this court is dangerous" during the match, later described conditions on the court as "slippery".

But she was reluctant to blame the lawn on Court Two for her defeat. "I don't think I've ever fallen three times in a match before in my career so that was a little strange," she said. "But that's certainly not an excuse and today I've seen a lot of players fall and take a few hits and a few injuries."

Sharapova, 26, left the contest hours after second seed Victoria Azarenka - who was due to take on Italy's Flavia Pennetta - pulled out because of an injured knee caused during a slip in her first round clash. She was one of seven players to withdraw from the grand slam on Wednesday - a record on any single day at Wimbledon - and later hit out at the condition of the courts.

Britain's last remaining women's singles hopeful Laura Robson, who plays her second round match on Thursday, tweeted: "Craziest day at #wimbledon ever? #omg"

Azarenka said: "The court was not in a very good condition. My opponent fell twice; I fell badly; there were some other people who fell after. So I don't know if it's the court or the weather." The 23-year-old Belarusian called on the All England Club to investigate whether conditions may have caused players to tumble.

Other players who have fallen since the tournament began include Novak Djokovic, Dustin Brown and Caroline Wozniacki. The All England Club has insisted the courts were no different from any other year and were always more "lush" during the early stages of the tournament.

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