WIMBLEDON, England – After four days without a significant upset, two top names were eliminated at Wimbledon on Friday within minutes of each other. Fourth-seeded David Nalbandian, runner-up in 2002, and women's No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former U.S. Open champion and finalist at the French Open three weeks ago, were both bounced in straight sets in third-round matches.
Nalbandian lost 7-6 (9), 7-6 (9), 6-2 to 30th-ranked Fernando Verdasco of Spain. The Argentine player, who was beaten by Lleyton Hewitt in the 2002 final, had never lost before the round of 16 in four previous attempts at Wimbledon.
"I didn't play good," he said. "I couldn't return any serves. I missed a lot of chances. He played OK. He didn't play great. I just lost by myself."
Nalbandian reached the semifinals at both the Australian and French Opens this year. He retired with an abdominal injury during the French semifinal against Roger Federer.
Despite his high seeding, Nalbandian was not considered among the chief contenders to unseat three-time defending champion Federer. Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick are viewed as the main threats.
Kuznetsova lost 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to Li Na, who became the first Chinese woman to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon. She's also only the second Chinese player to get this far at any Grand Slam; Zheng Jie made it to the fourth round of the 2004 French Open.
Zheng and Peng Shuai have also reached the third round here this week, with Zheng facing second-seeded Kim Clijsters on Friday. Peng plays Saturday against Flavia Pennetta of Italy.
The sixth-ranked Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion, reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2003 and 2005. She lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne in straight sets in the French Open final on June 10.
Hewitt needed just over half an hour Friday to move into the third round.
The sixth-seeded Australian had split the first four sets with 102nd-ranked Lee Hyung-taik of South Korea when their match was suspended by darkness Thursday.
Returning to Court 1 under sunny skies, Hewitt broke Lee in the 10th game of the fifth set to finish a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-4 win. Friday's play took 38 minutes, while the match lasted 3 hours, 56 minutes overall.
Lee fell behind 0-40 on his first service game of the fifth set, but saved three break points and held. Hewitt got in trouble at 15-30 and 30-30 on his serve in the ninth game, but hit consecutive aces (his 18th and 19th of the match) to hold, pumping his fist and shouting, "Come on!"
That seemed to lift Hewitt, and he went on to break for the match in the next game. After Hewitt ripped a forehand winner to put Lee down 15-40, the Korean dumped a forehand approach into the net on match point. Hewitt celebrated by dropping down to one knee and pumping his right arm three times.
Lee finished with more winners than Hewitt (66 to 51) but also had more unforced errors (59 to 42).
Earlier, Henin-Hardenne became the first player to reach the fourth round with another routine win in straight sets.
The third-seeded Belgian beat 34th-ranked Anna Chakvetadze of Russia, 6-2, 6-3 in 65 minutes on Court 2, known as the "graveyard of champions" because of its history of big upsets.
There was no danger of a surprise this time as Henin-Hardenne overwhelmed the 19-year-old Russian with 23 winners, closing out the match with a touch drop volley to break serve. Chakvetadze had just six winners, along with 15 unforced errors.
Henin-Hardenne, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2001, won the French Open last month for her fifth major title. By winning Wimbledon, she would complete a career collection of all four Grand Slam titles.
In her first two matches, Henin-Hardenne dropped just four games.
Friday's match was briefly interrupted at 5-2 in the first set when a ball girl fainted as the temperature reached 28 C (82 F). She received treatment on the side of the court.
Scheduled on Court 1 on Friday was Federer, facing a third-round match against 77th-ranked Nicolas Mahut of France, winner of the 2000 Junior Wimbledon.
Saturday's program will feature aging former champion Andre Agassi, playing in his final Wimbledon, against young dynamo Rafael Nadal, trying to make his breakthrough on grass.