LONDON: Reigning champion Rafa Nadal was in miserly mood as he reached the business end of Wimbledon on Saturday with a 7-6, 7-6, 6-0 third-round victory over Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.
The top seed returned to Court One a set to the good after rain had interrupted his progress on Friday and after some dogged resistance from wildcard Muller, the last man to beat him here other than Roger Federer, Nadal roared through.
Nadal, who committed just three unforced errors in the match, faces a real test in the last 16 where 2009 US champion Juan Martin del Potro awaits after the Argentine completed victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Sixth seed Tomas Berdych, the man Nadal beat to claim his second Wimbledon crown last year, is looking a threat again after an easy third round win over Alex Bogomolov Jr, a result that left Mardy Fish as the sole American survivor in the men’s draw at the halfway stage.
Federer, meanwhile, continued his smooth progress with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over his old rival David Nalbandian. The Swiss third seed, bidding for a record-equalling seventh title, outclassed his Argentine opponent who had beaten him eight times in their previous 18 matches.
Maria Sharapova, the 2004 women’s champion, took her customary place in the second week as the fifth seed overpowered Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-2 6-3 after the Russian was given a noon appointment on Court Two.
The scheduling of the top women’s players on what is the club’s third court has been a bone of contention this week after defending champion Serena Williams, five-time winner Venus Williams and world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki have all made their way across the ground to the eye-catching bowl.
Wozniacki was up-graded to Centre Court on Saturday as the expected sunshine and higher temperatures took a while to materialise and the Dane maintained her trouble-free start with a 6-3 6-2 defeat of 27th seed Jarmila Gajdosova.
The sun did finally break through as 13-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams took to Centre Court and easily overpowered Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-2. Serena will play Marion Bartoli in the fourth round.
Former world No 1 Ana Ivanovic was sent packing by Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-2, 7-6, failing to win a point in the tiebreak.
Results (prefix number denotes seeding): Men’s singles: Third round: 3-Roger Federer (Switzerland) bt 28-David Nalbandian (Argentina) 6-4, 6-2, 6-4; 24-Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina) bt 15-Gilles Simon (France) 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-5), 7-5; Lukasz Kubot (Poland) bt 9-Gael Monfils (France) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; 10-Mardy Fish (US) bt Robin Haase (Netherlands) 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 1-1 – Haase retired; 1-Rafa Nadal (Spain) bt Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 6-0; 6-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) bt Alex Bogomolov Jr (US) 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
Women’s singles: Third round: 7-Serena Williams (US) bt 26-Maria Kirilenko (Russia) 6-3, 6-2; Sabine Lisicki (Germany) bt Misaki Doi (Japan) 6-4, 6-2; Petra Cetkovska (Czech Republic) bt 18-Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) 6-2, 7-6 (7-0); 9-Marion Bartoli (France) bt 21-Flavia Pennetta (Italy) 5-7, 6-4, 9-7; 1-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) bt 27-Jarmila Gajdosova (Australia) 6-3, 6-2; 24-Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) bt 16-Julia Goerges (Germany) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; 5-Maria Sharapova (Russia) bt Klara Zakopalova (Czech Republic) 6-2, 6-3; 20-Peng Shuai (China) bt Melinda Czink (Hungary) 6-2, 7-6 (7-5). Friday’s remaining results:
Men’s singles: Third round: 4-Andy Murray (Britain) bt Ivan Ljubicic (Croatia) 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).
Women’s singles: Third round: 4-Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) bt 25-Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.—Reuters