Annie KO a blow for giddy BritsBy: OSSIAN SHINE
LONDON – To the uninitiated the scoreboard gave little away, but once the first fuzzy yellow ball was struck there could be no doubt that it was Anne Keothavong who was Britain’s darling on day four of the Wimbledon championships.
Despite her Laotian surname, Hackney-born Keothavong is as British as they come, and a giddily jingoistic crowd festooned with union jack paraphernalia threw themselves behind her.
Treated already this year to Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee celebrations and with the London Olympics less than a month away, a swell of patriotism is gripping Britain.
But on a verdant patch of Wimbledon turf, the feel good factor was put on ice temporarily as Britain’s number one was put firmly in her place by a fizzing, bouncing bundle of Italian energy in Sara Errani.
“It was a nice court to play on and I had lots of support,” Keothavong said wistfully following the 6-1 6-1 second-round defeat. “I’m just disappointed I couldn’t have done a little better.”
Realists, of course, would have known French Open finalist Errani would almost certainly have proved too strong for Britain’s world number 77, but for the most part realism has been suspended as a patriotic aura grips the British Isles in 2012.
Errani, though, had no problem playing the party pooper. She pumped the ball deep into British territory time and time again, only relenting to throw in the deftest of touches and bamboozle once again an increasingly frustrated Keothavong.
Set one disappeared in a flash and at the 50-minute mark, the calls of ‘Come on Annie’ could hardly have been more forlorn.
Whether it was the bright sun in her face, or mounting frustration threatening the 28-year-old’s resolve, Keothavong displayed a permanent grimace.
Then it was over. A duffed dropshot into the net handed Errani victory after 59 minutes. Keothavong collected her bag, and walked slowly, head bowed, into the bowels of the All England Club.
“I know I can play better. I didn’t challenge her today as much as I would have liked,” she said. “To lose in that fashion, it’s not particularly pleasing.
Four-times Wimbledon champion Serena Williams sailed effortlessly into the third round of Wimbledon with a crisply efficient 6-1 6-4 victory over Hungarian qualifier Melinda Czink.
Serena launched the match with three devastating aces in the first game and then kept firing them down at a demoralised Czink, who could do nothing against the mighty Williams firepower.
Shaking off her disappointing first round loss in the French Open, Serena looked razor sharp this time, moving crosscourt with effortless ease and serving a total of 10 aces.
The second set was more closely fought but one break in the ninth game was enough to secure Serena a clash in the next round with 2008 Wimbledon semi-finalist Zheng Jie of China.
World number one Maria Sharapova was forced to dig deep before securing her place in the Wimbledon third round with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (3/7), 6-0 victory over Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova.
Sharapova had crushed Anastasia Rodionova in the first round in her first match since winning the French Open earlier this month, but Pironkova made the Russian fight far harder to keep her title bid on course. – Nampa-Reuters-AFP