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.
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 sun did finally break through as 13-times grand slam singles champion Serena Williams took to Centre Court. She eased past Russia's Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-2 in her most dominant display at the tournament so far. Former world number one Ana Ivanovic was sent packing by Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-2 7-6, failing to win a point in the tiebreak.
Federer marches on
The prospect of a fourth Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer moved a step closer on Saturday as the two rivals cruised into the last 16.
World number one Nadal wrapped up a straight sets win over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller in a match that had been halted on Friday because of rain, winning 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/5), 6-0.
The reigning champion, who will face Juan Martin Del Potro in the last 16, was in imperious form against Muller, totting up only three unforced errors as he breezed into the fourth round. But Nadal is under no illusions about the scale of the task facing him in the second week of Wimbledon fortnight, saying the depth of talent in this year's draw made it one of the most unpredictable men's tournaments ever.
Federer, who is bidding to win a record seventh Wimbledon title, romped into the fourth round with a brisk straight sets dismissal of Argentinian 28th seed David Nalbandian, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
The 29-year-old is also unconcerned by the fact that his last Grand Slam win came at the Australian Open in 2010.
"It hasn't been that long," Federer said. "I don't go through days thinking 'God I haven't won a Grand Slam in so long.' You don't cry over stuff like that.
Dad's not the way
French ninth seed Marion Bartoli reached the last 16 but only after an extraordinary on-court bust-up with her father who she banished from the stands. Bartoli ordered her father and coach Walter, as well as her mother, from Court 12 after she lost the first set against Italy's Flavia Pennetta. The decision had the desired effect as she won 5-7, 6-4, 9-7.