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IN TOP FORM:Maria Sharapova eased past Klara Zakopalova in the third round to move into the second week of Wimbledon without losing a set.
LONDON: Former champion Maria Sharapova surged into the fourth round at Wimbledon with a 6-2, 6-3 win over unseeded Czech Klara Zakopalova on Saturday.
Australian youngster Bernard Tomic, the World no.158, produced the biggest upset of the men's singles so far, dumping Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 in the third round. Also crashing out was ninth-seeded Frenchman Gale Monfils, who fell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to unseeded Pole Lukasz Kubot.
Sharapova, who won the title in 2004, has enjoyed an impressive start to her bid for a second Wimbledon crown and moved serenely into the second week of the Grand Slam without losing a set in her first three matches.
Sharapova, 24, has been a firm favourite of crowds here since, aged just 17, she shocked defending champion Serena Williams to become the third youngest woman to win Wimbledon.
In contrast, Zakopalova, who won her previous meeting with Sharapova at the Australian Open back in 2003, had only been past the third round of a Grand Slam once in 32 attempts and she lacked the grasscourt instincts to trouble the former World No. 1.
Sharapova made a slow start before seeing off British teenager Laura Robson in the previous round, but she was far more commanding against Zakopalova as she broke twice in the first four games of the opening set.
Another break at 5-2 sealed the first set in convincing style, but Sharapova made a rather more unfocused start to the second.
She was unable to convert two break points in the second game and then gifted a break to Zakopalova with some sloppy ground-strokes and a double-fault.
The prospect of dropping a set for the first time in the tournament stirred Sharapova back into life and she broke to level at 3-3.
Now fully re-engaged with the contest, Sharapova unleashed a pair of blistering returns to break again before serving out the match.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro set up a fourth round clash against defending champion Rafael Nadal after the Argentine defeated Gilles Simon 7-6(8), 7-6(5), 7-5. Nadal reached the last 16 with a 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 6-0 win over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.
del Potro had defeated Nadal in the US Open semifinals in 2009 en route to the first Grand Slam title of his career and could pose more problems for the Spaniard at the All England Club when they meet on Monday.
Reigning Wimbledon champion Nadal will be aware that del Potro has won three of their eight encounters and, after missing most of last year with a wrist injury, the Argentine is finally fit and recapturing his best form.
The 22-year-old is currently 21st in the world after previously being ranked as high as fourth and has dropped just one set in his three matches so far at Wimbledon. Although he has struggled on grass in the past, del Potro's serve was especially impressive in a hard-fought third round win against French 15th seed Simon.
del Potro took the first set in a marathon tie-break and then recovered from 4-2 down to win the second set in the same manner.
Simon was unable to make any impact on del Potro's serve in the third set and one break was all the Argentinean needed to go through.
Peng sinks Czink
China's Peng Shuai beat Hungary's Melinda Czink 6-2, 7-6(5) to set up a clash with Sharapova for a place in the quarterfinals.
Peng equalled her best-ever Grand Slam performance, having made the fourth round at this year's Australian Open, in an assured display on the Court 18.
Peng was the only remaining Chinese in the singles after French Open winner Li Na was beaten by Germany's Sabine Lisicki and Zheng Jie went out to Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi in the second round.
She now faces Russian 2004 Wimbledon champion Sharapova, who came through her third round match on Court 2 in straight sets.
French ninth seed Gael Monfils suffered a surprise exit as qualifier Lukasz Kubot won their third round clash 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Monfils is ranked eighth in the world and reached the French Open quarter-finals recently, but he had no answer to the clever grasscourt play of World No. 93 Kubot.
In a match delayed overnight due to rain, Monfils struggled to deal with Kubot's serve and volley tactics.
Monfils has now failed to get past the third round at Wimbledon in five attempts, while Kubot will play Spain's Feliciano Lopez for a place in the quarter-finals.
Kubot has never reached the last eight of a Grand Slam and will be making only his second fourth round appearance in a major.
Indian veterans Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi blew away a strong start to make a shock exit from the men's doubles event losing 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4 in the second round to Arnaud Clement and Lukas Dlouhy on Saturday.
The French-Czech pair broke the Indians twice — third and ninth games — in the second set to draw parity and then nosed ahead by winning the third set tie-breaker.
The fourth set could not have started on a worse note for the Indians as they dropped serve in the very first game.
That was enough for Clement and Dlouhy, the latter a former partner of Paes, and they closed the match out easily. — Agencies
Men: Third round: Bernard Tomic (Aus) bt 5-Robin Soderling (Swe) 6-1, 6-4, 7-5; 12-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Fernando Gonzalez (Chi) 6-3, 6-4, 6-3; 7-David Ferrer (Esp) bt Karol Beck (Svk) 6-4, 6-3, 6-3; 19-Michael Llodra (Fra) bt Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe) 6-3, 6-3, 6-1; 18-Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) bt 16-Nicolas Almagro (Esp) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-3.
1-Rafael Nadal (Esp) bt Gilles Muller (Lux) 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 6-0; 10-Mardy Fish (USA) bt Robin Haase (Ned) 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2, 1-1(retd.); 6-Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) 6-2, 6-4, 6-3; 24-Juan Martin del Potro (Arg) bt 15-Gilles Simon (Fra) 7-6, 7-6(8), 7-5(5); Lukasz Kubot (Pol) bt 9-Gael Monfils (Fra) (9) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3; 3-Roger Federer (Sui) bt 28-David Nalbandian (Arg) 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Doubles: Second round: Arnaud Clement (Fra) & Lukas Dlouhy (Cze) bt 3-Mahesh Bhupathi (Ind) & Leander Paes (Ind) 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4
Women: Third round: Tamira Paszek (Aut) bt 6-Francesca Schiavone (Ita) 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.
1-Caroline Wozniacki (Den) bt 27-Jarmila Gajdosova (Aus) 6-3, 6-2; 24-Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) bt 16-Julia Goerges (Ger) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3; 20-Shuai Peng (Chn) bt Melinda Czink (Hun) 6-2, 7-6(5); 5-Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Klara Zakopalova (Cze) 6-2, 6-3; 9-Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt 21-Flavia Pennetta (Ita) 5-7, 6-4, 9-7; Petra Cetkovska (Zze) bt 18-Ana Ivanovic (Ser) 6-2, 7-6(0); 7-Serena Williams (USA) bt 26-Maria Kirilenko (Rus) 6-3, 6-2; Sabine Lisicki (Ger) Misaki Doi (Jpn) 6-4, 6-2.
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