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Darn near perfect

Djokovic masterful in third-round triumph

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LONDON -- Even by his own lofty standards, Novak Djokovic put in a Wimbledon performance that was close to perfect.

The top-ranked Serb played near-flawless tennis to reach the fourth round of the grass-court Grand Slam on Saturday, going close to a full match without making an unforced error in dispatching Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Serena Williams wasn't bad either, giving a lopsided schooling to the oldest woman in the tournament.

Williams recorded her 600th career win, brushing aside 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-2, 6-0 in an evening match that was moved to Centre Court so it could be played under the lights with the roof closed.

It still wasn't as impressive as Djokovic's play on the same court earlier.

By the time he finally did make an error, it was the simplest sort. At 4-1, 40-0 in the third set, Djokovic double-faulted. Until that point, he had lost just three points on his own serve.

It was a temporary glitch, though, as he closed out the game on the next point, and wrapped up the match in just 87 minutes.

'It's unbelievable playing here on Centre Court, closed roof, under the lights. I don't think it gets any better for me than a closed roof on grass'

-- Serena Williams

"Everything went my way," Djokovic said. "I did everything I wanted to do... When you play that well, obviously you feel great, you feel confident. This kind of performance came in the right time for me."

He finished with 38 winners and just three unforced errors in a masterful display that cemented his status as the favourite to win a second Wimbledon title, having seen seven-time champion Roger Federer and two-time winner Rafael Nadal already knocked out.

He will next face Tommy Haas, the 35-year-old German who is enjoying a late career revival and beat Feliciano Lopez of Spain 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

"He's playing maybe the best tennis ever," Djokovic said. "I don't see any clear favourite to be honest."

Most fans probably do, especially after Djokovic picked apart Chardy so convincingly. Even though fourth-seeded David Ferrer managed to advance in five sets and remain on course for a semifinal against Djokovic, most fans are probably already penciling the Serb's name in the final.

"Not many times it happens on the grass against a big server (that) you get to play this well and return this well," Djokovic said. "I managed to find the right balance."

Williams picked up where Djokovic left off, dominating Date-Krumm in their first career meeting.

Date-Krumm was the oldest woman to reach the third round of Wimbledon in the Open era -- having made the semifinals here in 1996 -- and the Japanese veteran never stood a chance against the power game of the 31-year-old Williams.

Williams finished with 28 winners to 8 for Date-Krumm and broke her five times. The five-time champion will next face Sabine Lisicki of Germany.

"It's unbelievable playing here on Centre Court, closed roof, under the lights," Williams said. "I don't think it gets any better for me than a closed roof on grass."

Ferrer had a much tougher time, struggling with blisters on his foot and the tenacious game of Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine before winning 6-7 (6), 7-6 (2), 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Earlier, Petra Kvitova avoided becoming the latest former champion to be knocked out in the first week, rallying from a break down in the final set to beat Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

Last year's runner-up, Agnieszka Radwanska, also advanced, while Centre Court featured another upset when ninth-seeded Richard Gasquet lost to Bernard Tomic, the Australian whose father has been barred from tournaments because of an assault case.

Radwanska held off a hard-serving performance by American teenager Madison Keys to win 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Tomic, who in 2011 as an 18-year-old qualifier became the youngest Wimbledon quarter-finalist since Boris Becker in 1985, beat Gasquet 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Tomic's father and coach, John, is accused of head-butting his son's training partner before a tournament in Madrid and has been barred from even buying a ticket to Wimbledon. However, Tomic said he's still getting advice and help from his father.

"He's helping me at this tournament," Tomic said. "I'm not doing it on my own. My dad is still involved. That's why I've gotten to where I am in this tournament."

Former runnerup Tomas Berdych and No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro also advanced, although the latter said he would need to see a doctor after injuring his ankle and knee in a scary late fall during his 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-0 win over Grega Zemlja of Slovenia.

Del Potro hurt his left leg when chasing down a drop shot in the third set, skidding awkwardly on the grass and tumbling face first.

"It was really painful. I was a little scared at that moment," he said.

As is traditional on the middle Saturday of the tournament, the Royal Box on Centre Court was filled with invited sports stars, this year mainly British gold-medal winners from the London Olympics. Among those getting the biggest ovation from the crowd were cyclists Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, as well as Murray, who donned a suit and tie to make a brief appearance in the box to celebrate his singles gold medal won on Centre Court.

Laura Robson gave the crowd another reason to cheer when she became the first British woman since Sam Smith in 1998 to reach the fourth round. Robson rallied from a set and a break down to beat Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Igor Sijsling of Netherlands retired against Croatia's Ivan Dodig when trailing 6-0, 6-1, 1-0, the 13th retirement or walkover of the tournament. That equals a Wimbledon record from 2008.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 30, 2013 B11

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