Netcord fluke keeps Ivanovic alive in Wimbledon thriller


London : Ana Ivanovic planted a post-victory kiss on the top of the net which saved her life on a match point chance for opponent Nathalie Dechy at the Wimbledon Championships Wednesday.

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But the eventual 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 10-8 second-round result in favour of the Serb brought tears to the eyes of the beaten French opponent.

“I just went to kiss the net because I felt so lucky,” said top seed and French Open champion Ivanovic after escaping what looked to be a second-round upset exit in a marathon win lasting three hours, 24 minutes.

“If it wasn’t for that net and that place I would be booking my flight back home. I felt so, so lucky to be through today because she played really well and didn’t make me feel like I was playing good.”

Ivanovic’s great escape came in the tenth game of the second set when the 29-year-old Dechy had two match-winning chances foiled.

On the second, the ball tipped the net taping, sailed straight up into the air and landed as a dribbling drop volley to Dechy’s detriment.

“Maybe today she can go and play lotto also a little bit. It would be a good day for her,” said the devastated Frenchwoman, who also saved two match points late in the third set before Ivanovic prevailed.

“I had to work on myself, because until five minutes ago I was crying very hard,” she said hours after the fact. “It’s just a tennis match.

“It’s always so tough when you lose these kind of matches. But I think I gave my best today.”

While one Serb was saved, here was no mercy for Novak Djokovic as the Australian Open winner fell out of immediate contention in the chase to try and pass Roger Federer on world number one.

Russia’s sleeping giant Marat Safin rocked the tournament with a comprehensive second-round knockout of the third seed 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

The shock victory may have narrowed the title chase at the All England club to five-times champion Federer and second seed Rafael Nadal.

“It was certainly a very bad day for me,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t do anything that I was supposed to do.

“He was very solid in all segments of the game, serving well and putting a lot of pressure on me. I was serving a lot of double faults (10), which is unusual. I was just not finding my momentum, that’s all.

“What can I do? It’s a straight sets win, I didn’t expect it, honestly.”

Safin, who has been in an injury funk for the past several seasons, said he applied the pressure on the sometimes fragile youngster.

“I took advantage that he was under a lot of pressure because he’s fighting for number one,” said the Russian, a two-time champion at majors.

Cypriot tenth seed Marcos Baghdatis moved ahead, stopping Swede Thomas Johansson 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 while Federer’s friend Stan Wawrinka, the number 13, crushed Argentine Juan del Potro 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-5.

Italian Simone Bolelli upset Chile’s 15th seed Fernando Gonzalez 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).

2002 winner Lleyton Hewitt, battling a chronic hip injury which he feels every moment on court, advanced into the third round over Spain’s Albert Montanes 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, 6-2.

On the women’s side, fourth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-3. Serena Williams, the number six, looked out of sorts but squeezed out a victory against Poland’s Urszula Radwanska 6-4, 6-4 Number eight Anna Chakvetadze advanced along with 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli.