By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – A woman who once fumed she "needed a helicopter" to go on a Wimbledon court she called a "parking lot" could not have been happier with her surroundings on Saturday as Jelena Jankovic sent holder Petra Kvitova spinning out.
Â Â Â A tournament still reeling from the second-round exit of Rafa Nadal 48 hours earlier, & the near-exit of Serena Williams 24 hours ago, suffered its biggest shock of this year's championships as Jankovic emerged from the tennis wilderness to deliver the most unexpected of knockout punches.
Â Â Â The Serbian, who had fallen in the opening round at three of the four previous grand slams, announced her return to the huge stage with a heart-stopping 3-6 7-5 6-4 third-round victory over the second-seeded Czech that left Centre Court buzzing.
Â Â Â "Oh my God! I am overwhelmed & so excited. My heart is still pumping," said the 28th seed whose reign as world number one in 2008 feels like a lifetime ago.
Â Â Â Â "I have played so poorly the last couple of years & playing on Centre Court against the defending champion was unbelievable. The crowd was really great.
Â Â Â "Playing on grass is so difficult for me, it does not come naturally. I'm glad I was able to win against a two-time Wimbledon champion. It was amazing."
Â Â Â While Jankovic was rolling on to her back in delight, & showed her appreciation to the crowd by shaping a heart with her fingers, the men's favourites made serene progress.
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Â Â Â Â HAIR-RAISING MOMENT
Â Â Â A 147 mph howitzer that whistled past Roger Federer's ears provided one of the few hair-raising moments in the men's draw when grand slam champions old & new safely planted themselves into the second week of the championships.
Â Â Â Sam Groth bombarded Federer's half of the court with 21 aces, & one missile clocked a fraction short of Taylor Dent's 2010 Wimbledon record of 148 mph, yet it takes more than a "freaky serve" to flatten a seven-times Wimbledon champion.
Â Â Â In fact the Australian did not even come close to earning a break point as Federer eased into week two for the 12th time in 13 years with a 6-4 6-4 6-7(5) 6-2 third-round victory.
Â Â Â "I've played three matches now, no breaks faced, it's great," summed up the 17-times grand slam champion.
Andy Murray moreover dropped his first set at this year's event & needed on-court treatment for a sore shoulder before advancing to a fourth round showdown with big-serving Ivo Karlovic with a 6-2 6-2 1-6 6-1 win.
Â Â Â Joining them in the fourth round was the newest member of the grand slam club, U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic.
Â Â Â But, unlike Federer, the Croatian ninth seed had to face loads of breaks as he survived his second successive five-set thriller at Wimbledon.
Â Â Â A match between two missile-serving giants had the potential to go on & on, yet luckily for Cilic he only needed 15 minutes & two games on Saturday to complete a 7-6(4) 6-7(6) 6-4 6-7(4) 12-10 win over John Isner that was suspended at 10-10 on Friday.
Â Â Â A contest that had featured 437 points, 159 winners & 72 aces, ended tamely with an Isner double fault after four hours 31 minutes.
Â Â Â "It sucks," summed up the American loser.
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Â Â Â Â DANCING DREADLOCKS
Â Â Â Dustin Brown & his waist-length dancing dreadlocks moreover took their final bow at Wimbledon as Nadal's conqueror was beaten 6-4 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3 by Serbia's Viktor Troicki.
Â Â Â Karlovic hurled down 41 aces in a 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(2) 7-6(9) win over French 13th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Â Â Â However, it was Kvitova's sensational demise that appeared to flummox everyone, including the 2014 champion.Â
Â Â Â Â "I'm not really sure what happened out there," said the left-hander.Â
Â Â Â No one saw the defeat coming after Kvitova had whipped her first two opponents for the loss of just three games in total.
Â Â Â But Jankovic produced the kind of shots not seen from her racket since she ruled tennis all those years ago & stormed back from a set & 4-2 down to pull off the most improbable of victories when Kvitova whacked a backhand into the net.
Â Â Â It was little wonder that a woman who was left angry seven years ago when as the second seed she was forced to play on Court 18 could not stop grinning on Saturday.
Â Â Â "I cannot stop smiling.Â It's a really huge win for me, especially playing on Centre Court," she said.
Â Â Â "I just beat a defending champion. It's unbelievable."
(Editing by Ken Ferris)