LONDON -- China's Zheng Jie pulled off one of the biggest upset at the All England Club on Friday when she beat top-seeded Ana Ivanovic in straight sets in the third round of the Wimbledon Open.
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.
Zheng Jie of China celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in their match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 27, 2008. [Agencies]
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.
Ivanovic exited 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 ousted 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.
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 Grand Slam. 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.
"I felt today the match gave me more belief for the Olympics," she said.
Also on Friday, Roger Federer continued his march toward a sixth straight Wimbledon title by beating Marc Gicquel in straight sets, setting up a fourth-round matchup with the last man to win the championship before his run began.
After the first rain delay of the tournament, Federer overwhelmed the 53rd-ranked Frenchman 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 on Centre Court for his 62nd consecutive win on grass and 37th straight at the All England Club.
His next opponent will be Lleyton Hewitt, who won Wimbledon in 2002 the year before the Swiss star won the first of his five straight titles.
Fifth-seeded David Ferrer was ousted by Croatia's Mario Ancic 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3) in a match that ended on Centre Court in near darkness around 9:15 p.m. Ancic is the last player to have defeated Federer at Wimbledon - he did it as a qualifier in the first round in 2002.
Ferrer's exit means six of the top 10 seeded players in the men's draw have gone out so far in the first three rounds.
In a match which ended even later on Court 1, Safin pulled out a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over Andreas Seppi.