Photo: Paul ZimmerVictoria Azarenka (BLR)
Victoria Azarenka’s comeback from a foot injury was halted in the second round at Wimbledon when the No. 8 seed was defeated 63 36 75 by Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski on Wednesday.
Azarenka, who has only played five events in 2014 (including Wimbledon), exits in the second round at the All England Club for the second straight year. Meanwhile her opponent is through to the third round at Wimbledon for the first time where she will play Czech qualifier Tereza Smitkova.
“I'm very happy that I'm playing,” said Azarenka. “After losing a match like this, it's not very satisfying. But there are things that I'm happy with. I just need to look at the things that I need to improve. That's what I want to focus on, things that I want to improve.
“I'm very motivated. I'm not taking that as a downer, this match. I'm going to take it as motivation to be better.”
No. 2 seed Li Na progressed more easily with a 62 62 victory over Austria’s Yvonne Meusberger and she will face Birmingham runner-up Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the next round.
There were also wins for Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova – the latter setting up a clash of two former Wimbledon champions against Venus Williams in the third round.
Flavia Pennetta, seeded 12th, fell to USA’s Lauren Davis, but the remainder of the seeds in the bottom half of the women’s draw all made it through unscathed.
In the men’s draw, there was a thrilling encounter on Centre Court between top seed Novak Djokovic and 35-year-old Radek Stepanek.
The Serbian raced to a two-set lead before Stepanek clawed back the third in a tiebreak. The fourth looked like it could be going the way of the wily Czech before Djokovic clinched the match with a cross court winner in another tiebreak.
“I expected a tough match against Radek [Stepanek],” said Djokovic. He has great touch, great talent on the net. He covered very well my passing shots. He was reading it. Credit to him for fighting in the third. I thought I could have finished the match in three sets. But, you know, didn't come out with my first serve when I needed in the tiebreaker, and he came back.
“So all in all just very glad that I managed to win this match because it was a great challenge.”
Djokovic will play Gilles Simon in the third round – a former Top 10 player – as his draw continues to look decidedly tricky.
Defending champion Andy Murray spent just 83 minutes on court as he laid waste to the challenge of Slovenia’s Blaz Rola, winning 61 61 60. The Briton faces ‘s-Hertogenbosch champion Roberto Bautista-Agut in the next round.
The biggest seed to fall in the men’s draw so far this year was No. 7 David Ferrer, who lost in five sets against Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov.
Wednesday also saw Ernests Gulbis, seeded No. 12, lose to Sergiy Stakhovksy, but the remainder of the seeded players all progressed to play on day five.
The ITF produces men's match notes at Wimbledon. For a full list of the notes please click here.