Associated Press

Wimbledon, June 24:

Marat Safin’s newfound confidence on grass failed to help him on Friday, and he lost to Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 in the third round at Wimbledon. The No 5-seeded Safin, who threatened to stop trying at Wimbledon after losing in the first round last year, entered this year’s tournament with an upbeat attitude and easily won his first two matches. But he was out-served by Lopez and quickly became so frustrated that he launched a ball onto the Court 1 roof in anger, prompting a warning from the chair umpire. Lopez, a left-handed Spaniard seeded 26th, never lost serve and closed out the victory with his 14th ace. No 3-seeded Lleyton Hewitt had American Justin Gimelstob diving all over the Centre Court lawn in vain pursuit of shots and won 7-6, 6-4, 7-5. Hewitt, the 2002 champion, will next play another American, No 24 Taylor Dent, who beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. In women’s play, US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was pushed to three sets for the second straight match but beat 16-year-old Nicole Vaidisova 7-5, 6-7, 6-2.

Kuznetsova’s next opponent will be unseeded Magdalena Maleeva, who reached the fourth round in the tournament for the fourth time in five years by defeating Antonella Serra Zanetti 6-3, 6-2. Two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Amelie Mauresmo, seeded third, eliminated American Shenay Perry 6-0, 6-2. Mauresmo has lost just 11 games in three matches. No 6-seeded Elena Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam runner-up, beat American Mashona Washington 7-5, 6-1. Safin exchanged chuckles with Lopez over an early overrule by the umpire, but the mercurial Russian’s mood soured as he fell behind. He whacked a ball in anger when he failed to convert two break points, allowing Lopez to hold for a 5-3 lead in the first set, and he muttered, shook his head and slumped his big shoulders as the match slipped away. Safin lost serve only twice but went 0-for-4 on break-point chances against Lopez.