LONDON - Top-seeded Ana Ivanovic was knocked out in the third round of Wimbledon yesterday by 133d-ranked Zheng Jie of China, extending a spate of stunning upsets at the All England Club.
Ivanovic, who took over the No. 1 ranking after winning the French Open earlier this month, slumped to a 6-1, 6-4 loss to the wild-card entry and doubles specialist.
Ivanovic, who saved two match points before overcoming Nathalie Dechy in three sets on Wednesday, had no answer for the hard-hitting Zheng.
"It's a surprise for me," said the 24-year-old Zheng, who won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2006. "Thanks to Wimbledon, [which] gave me a wild card. I just tried my best and had to keep going, going."
It was the earliest exit by a women's top-seeded player at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis lost in the first round to Jelena Dokic in 2001.
Also yesterday, the last remaining American in the men's draw, Bobby Reynolds, lost to Spain's Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Ivanovic went out a day after 2004 champion and third-seeded Maria Sharapova was ousted by 154th-ranked Alla Kudryavtseva and two-time men's runner-up Andy Roddick was bounced by Janko Tipsarevic. A day earlier, Australian Open champion and No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic fell to Marat Safin.
Ivanovic committed 17 unforced errors, converted only one of seven break-point chances, and lost serve four times. She could lose the No. 1 ranking depending on how far No. 2 Jelena Jankovic and No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova advance in the tournament.
The match ended with Zheng's serve hitting the service line and Ivanovic shanking her forehand return into the Court 1 stands.
"She played really well today and it was a tough match for me," Ivanovic said. "I'm disappointed with my loss but I still look at it as a learning experience.
"It was a very emotional last couple of weeks for me and it took a bit of a toll," she added. "I didn't have great preparation."
Zheng has won 11 tour doubles titles, including the 2006 Wimbledon and Australian Open championships with Yan Zi. She has captured three career singles titles, in relatively small events at Hobart in 2005 and Estoril and Stockholm in 2006.
In 2004, Zheng reached the Round of 16 at the French Open to become the first Chinese woman to make the fourth round of a major. She reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 27 in 2006.
Zheng will play singles and doubles for China at the Beijing Olympics in August.
Other title favorites fared better yesterday.
Roger Federer continued his march toward a sixth straight Wimbledon title by beating Marc Gicquel in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1, setting up a fourth-round matchup with the last man to win the championship before his run began.
His next opponent will be Lleyton Hewitt, the Wimbledon champion in 2002, the year before the Swiss star won the first of his five straight titles.
Two-time women's champion Serena Williams dispatched 2006 winner Amelie Mauresmo, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, extending her supremacy over the Frenchwoman to a career record of 10-2.