Roger Federer was left with a clear run to a fourth successive Wimbledon final on July 1, 2006 when dangermen David Nalbandian and James Blake both crashed out in the third round.
Argentinian fourth seed Nalbandian, one of just four men to have beaten Federer since the start of 2005, was dismissed by Spanish 28th seed Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (11/9), 7-6 (11/9), 6-2.
Blake, the eighth seeded American, lost a gruelling five-setter to Belarussian giant Max Mirnyi 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.
In the women's event, 1997 champion Martina Hingis saw her dreams of a second title ended by Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama who won their third round clash 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Russian fifth seed and a former US Open champion, was also packing her bags as Li Na became the first Chinese woman to make the fourth round with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win.
Federer, the triple champion and world number one, took full advantage of his rivals' slip-ups by clinching his 45th consecutive grass court win with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 victory over France's Nicolas Mahut.
He will now face either Tommy Haas of Germany or the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych for a place in the quarter-finals.
"Mahut serves and volleys first and second serve but I'd rather hit constant winners from the baseline," said Federer.
"I knew I had wait for my chances and it was important not to get frustrated."
Nalbandian, the 2002 runner-up, paid a heavy price for demanding that his match be scheduled as early as possible to allow him time to watch Argentina face Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals.
"I had never played a match before on the same day as a World Cup game, but the organisers were OK about it," said Nalbandian.
Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, reached the third round after edging a marathon five-setter against South Korea's Lee Hyung-Taik.
The sixth-seed Australian broke Lee's service in the tenth game of the fifth set to clinch a 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 victory in a match that had been interrupted on Thursday night at the end of the fourth set.
In total, the Australian was on court for five minutes short of four hours -- far from ideal preparation for Saturday's third round meeting with Belgian Olivier Rochus.
"Survival, that's all it really was out there," said Hewitt. "I was frustrated that I didn't close it out on Thursday but he's a hell of a shotmaker."
In the other third round match held over from June 30, 2006, Britain's Andy Murray saw off France's Julien Benneteau 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to set up a fourth round clash against Andy Roddick.
Hingis, playing here for the first time since 2001, squandered a 3-0 lead in the final set against Sugiyama who now faces France's Severine Bremond for a place in the quarter-finals.
"Even though I was 3-0 ahead they were very draining games," said Hingis.
"She's a very good player. She likes the flat balls, she's a tough cookie. But in the past, losses have made me stronger."
Li, the 27th seed, will face either Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic or Croatia's Karolina Sprem for a quarter-final spot but China was unable to celebrate a second woman in the fourth round when Belgian second seed Kim Clijsters beat Zheng Jie 6-3, 6-2.
Justine Henin-Hardenne, fresh from her third French Open triumph, moved into the fourth round as she targets winning the only Grand Slam to have eluded her.
The Belgian third seed eased past Anna Chakvetadze, the Russian 30th seed, 6-2, 6-3 and will take on Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia for a place in the last eight.