Federer downs Gicquel in straight sets, advances
WIMBLEDON, England -- Roger Federer continued his march toward a sixth straight Wimbledon title by beating Marc Gicquel in straight sets Friday, setting up a fourth-round matchup with the last man to win the championship before him.
After the first rain delay of the tournament, Federer overwhelmed the 53rd-ranked Frenchman 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 on Centre Court for his 62nd consecutive win on grass and 37th straight at the All England Club.
His next opponent will be Lleyton Hewitt, who won Wimbledon in 2002 -- the year before the Swiss star began his run of five straight titles.
Federer surprisingly dropped serve in the opening game. But he immediately broke back and was in control the rest of the way as he sailed to victory in 1 hour, 21 minutes. The rain delay before the match lasted longer -- 1 hour, 41 minutes -- the first rain of the tournament.
"Again, difficult conditions, tricky opponent," Federer said. "The wind was swirling. I got down a break in the first game and had to rally back. I played really well throughout the match considering the circumstances."
"It's always nice," he said. "Couple of days off now. Hope I play as well next week. It's important to try to keep the game where it is."
Hewitt, who has been troubled by a chronic hip injury and is seeded No. 20, served 14 aces and beat Italy's Simone Bolelli 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (2).
Federer leads Hewitt 13-7 in career meetings and has won 11 straight going back to the Australian Open in 2004. They have played twice before at Wimbledon, with Federer winning in the quarterfinals in 2004 and semifinals in 2005.
"The next round will be much more difficult," Federer said. "We've played maybe over 16 times. He's a former No. 1 and Grand Slam champion. Should be a great match."
The 31-year-old Gicquel, who had never gone beyond the first round at Wimbledon, has a big serve and strong forehand but couldn't trouble Federer. Gicquel saved a set point on his own serve at 3-5, but Federer closed it out in the next game with a 129 mph ace.
On the final point of the second set, Federer whipped a forehand that left Gicquel lunging and doing the splits. Federer cruised through the third set in 20 minutes.
Also on Friday, No. 11 Tomas Berdych lost to Ferndando Verdasco, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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