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Nadal cruises through last 16, Gasquet and Clement qualify

©

Latest update : 2008-06-28

France's Richard Gasquet and Arnaud Clement both qualified for the last 16 in Wimbledon but Paul-Henri Mathieu was eliminated by Croat Marin Cilic. Rafael Nadal easily beat German Nicolas Kieffer in three sets.

Rafael Nadal stepped up his bid to dethrone Roger Federer at Wimbledon, the second seed clicking into overdrive on Saturday to dismiss German Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 6-2 6-3 and reach the fourth round. 

A ruthless Venus Williams and a hobbling Jelena Jankovic restored some order to the women's draw to keep their grand slam hopes alive heading into the second week.
 
Nadal, runner-up to five-times champion Federer for the last two years at the All-England club, had been kept waiting until nearly 1800 GMT to begin his match on Centre Court against the number 27 seed. 

There was nothing to choose between the players in a tight first set but Nadal raced through the second in 27 minutes and despite a brief rally by Kiefer from 5-0 down in the third, Nadal secured a last 16 tie with Russian Mikhail Youzhny. 

"I am doing well, only losing one set. From now on, I know that I am going to have a tough time," Nadal said after completing a highly satisfactory first week. 

Britain Andy Murray matched his best grand slam performance with a 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-2 success over German Tommy Haas, raising expectations among a feverish home support that he could become the first British men's singles champion at Wimbledon for more than 70 years.
  

Feeling great
 

Next in line for the 21-year-old Murray stands Frenchman Richard Gasquet, a semi-finalist last year and 11 months Murray's senior. Eighth seed Gasquet prevailed 6-3 6-3 6-7 6-3 in an all-French battle with Gilles Simon and said he was now "feeling great" after missing the French Open final through injury. 

Gasquet has won their only two previous meetings, both on hard courts, and Murray predicted a "tough" match.
 
Champion Williams, seeking a fifth title at the All England Club, dispatched Spanish qualifier Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1 7-5 and heads for a fourth-round meeting with little-known Russian Alisa Kleybanova.
 
Following the shock exits of top seed Ana Ivanovic and former champion Maria Sharapova and with Serena Williams also hitting her stride the Williams sisters are now favourites to contest their third Wimbledon final on July 5. 

"I was happy with that one," Venus Williams told reporters after an efficient victory over her 101st ranked opponent. 

"The first set was pretty clean.  The second set she just changed her strategy, started playing better and got that break back. I played aggressive to get the break back. 

"You know, I was pretty happy because she started putting some pressure on. I had some good answers."
 
Second seed Jankovic has yet to make the final of a grand slam and the Serb's hopes of progressing further in the tournament will depend much on how quickly she recovers from a knee injury sustained against Danish 17-year-old Caroline Wozniacki.
 
Jankovic strained her left knee at the start of the match but came through 2-6 6-4 6-2. The 23-year-old, clearly struggling to move around the court, took a medical timeout at the start of the third set but, despite wincing in pain at the end of every point, was able to subdue Wozniacki before heading for the treatment table. 

"It's a little bit swollen at the moment but I don't think it's that bad," Jankovic told reporters. 

Despite Sharapova's early exit, four Russian women booked their places in the last 16. 

Alla Kudryavtseva, conqueror of the 2004 champion and third seed on Thursday, continued her dream run by ousting China's Peng Shuai 6-3 1-6 6-4 while fifth-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva, Nadia Petrova, and Kleybanova also progressed.  

One Russian to miss out was French Open finalist Dinara Safina, the ninth seed harried out 7-5 6-7 8-6 by Israel's Shahar Peer.

Date created : 2008-06-28

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