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Sharapova upset by Dulko at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England - Growing desperate in the final game,Maria Sharapova scrambled to hit one shot left-handed. Twice shechallenged calls but lost. Then she lost the match as well.

Sharapova won seven consecutive games during one stretch but leta late lead slip away Wednesday and was beaten by Gisela Dulko,6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round at Wimbledon.

In a wild, 14-point final game, Sharapova saved four matchpoints. But on the fifth she pushed an easy forehand long, and shewas out of the tournament after two rounds for the second year in arow.

The 2004 champion was playing in her fourth event sincerejoining the tour last month following shoulder surgery inOctober. She's ranked 60th but was seeded 24th because of pastsuccess at the All England Club.

Two-time champion Serena Williams, seeded second, sped into thethird round by beating Jarmila Groth 6-2, 6-1. Williams committedonly six unforced errors.

In men's play, No. 28-seeded Mardy Fish of the United Statesmatched his best showing at Wimbledon by reaching the third roundwith a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Janko Tipsarevic. Fish nextplays No. 4 Novak Djokovic, who defeated Simon Greul 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.

"I'll throw everything I've got at him," Fish said. "I don'thave anything else to do."

American Taylor Dent double-faulted 21 times and lost to DanielGimeno-Traver in the completion of a first-round match suspendedbecause of darkness, 7-5, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4.

No. 16 Zheng Jie, a semifinalist as a wild card last year, lostto Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 7-5. No. 10 Nadia Petrova, No. 14Dominika Cibulkova and No. 26 Virginie Razzano won.

Dulko, ranked 45th, matched her best showing at Wimbledon byreaching the third round. She had won a total of only three gamesin two previous matches against Sharapova, but the Argentinerepeatedly took charge of rallies by hitting drop shots, whileSharapova struggled with her serve and forehand.

They played the afternoon's first match on Centre Court in warmsunshine, and the new roof remained open for a third consecutiveday. Dulko was almost flawless at the start, committing only fourunforced errors in the first 11 games.

But with a 3-love lead in the second set, she began spraying hershots, and Sharapova took advantage to win seven consecutive games.

Sharapova then wobbled, double-faulting to lose serve and fallbehind 2-1 in the final set. She double-faulted twice in a row andlost serve at love to fall behind to stay, 4-3.

With Dulko serving in the final game, Sharapova lost twochallenges as she fell behind 40-15. Always at her best underpressure, Sharapova hit a booming return and a feathery drop shotto overcome the first two match points, and her return winnererased another.

But with a point for 5-all, Sharapova pushed a backhand into thenet, and she made errors on the final two points as well.

Sharapova fell to 6-1 this year in three-set matches. Shefinished with nine double-faults and had at least one in everyservice game in the final set.

Marat Safin's final match at Wimbledon took place Tuesday oncozy Court 18, tucked in a corner of the All England Club, closerto the exit than to the court where trophies are handed out.

That was appropriate, because Safin always seemed to have onefoot out the door at Wimbledon. Playing his final year on the tour,the mercurial Russian lost in the first round to American JesseLevine, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Safin smiled when asked how he felt to be done at Wimbledon.

"Relieved," he said.

The two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 never reallytook to grass, although he came to accept it as a brief, necessaryannoyance at the start of each summer.

His best Wimbledon run came last year, when he reached thesemifinals before losing to Roger Federer. But he won only 16 of 26matches at the All England Club, and could recall only two where heplayed well -- against Goran Ivanisevic in a loss in 2001, and in awin over Novak Djokovic last year.

"That's it," he said. "Not much."


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