LONDON (AFP) –
Serena Williams and Andy Roddick, two warhorses of American tennis, endured conflicting Wimbledon fortunes on Saturday while Marin Cilic triumphed in the second longest match in tournament history.
Four-time champion Williams clinched a three-set win over China’s Zheng Jie to reach the last 16 but thrice runner-up Roddick crashed to a second successive third round defeat, sparking more doubts over his future.
Compatriot Brian Baker, who missed six years of action through a variety of injuries and operations, made the last 16 as his fairytale comeback gathered momentum.
But fellow American Sam Querrey was the fall guy to Cilic’s epic efforts, losing in five gruelling sets.
Sixth-seed Williams, playing in her 13th Wimbledon, saw off 25th-seed Zheng 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 9-7 and will tackle Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan for a place in the quarter-finals.
“It was good to win. I needed a tough match and she’s always playing me incredibly well,” said Williams, who unleashed a Wimbledon women’s record 23 aces.
Wildcard Shvedova will go into Monday’s fourth round tie having made history as the first woman at a Grand Slam to achieve a Golden Set.
She won all 24 points in a first set 6-0 wipeout of Italian 10th seed, and French Open runner-up, Sara Errani on her way to the last 16 for the first time. Shvedova took the second set 6-4.
Roddick, like Williams a former world number one, slumped to a 2-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Spanish seventh seed David Ferrer and left Centre Court blowing kisses to his fans.
The 29-year-old suffered three agonising final defeats to Roger Federer in 2004, 2005 and 2009, the last of which ended 16-14 in the final set, was Roddick’s last memorable campaign at the All England Club.
“I don’t have a definitive answer, I can’t give you much else,” said 2003 US Open champion Roddick, when asked if Saturday was his last farewell to Wimbledon.
Baker’s Wimbledon debut got even better as he enjoyed a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over France’s Benoit Paire.
Baker lost six years of his career to an assortment of injuries that left him needing five different operations on a hernia, left and right hips and right elbow.
Cilic, the 16th seeded Croat, beat Querrey 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-7 (7/2), 6-7 (7/3), 17-15 in a match that lasted five hours and 31 minutes.
It was the second longest match in Wimbledon history, but remains a long way behind the world record 11 hours and five minutes it took John Isner to beat Nicolas Mahut in 2010.
Tenth-seeded American Mardy Fish, playing his first tournament since undergoing a heart operation, beat Belgian wildcard David Goffin 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (8/6).
Fish will face French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Czech world 100 Lukas Rosol, who caused one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport when he beat world number two Rafael Nadal in the second round, saw his adventure end out on Court 12.
German 27th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber eased to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) win over the giantkiller and will next tackle Baker.
Argentine ninth seed Juan Martin del Potro defeated Kei Nishikori, the first Japanese man since 1995 to reach the third round, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 and will face Ferrer.
Later Saturday, British fourth seed Andy Murray was taking on Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, with the winner to meet Cilic.
Defending women’s champion Petra Kvitova crushed Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-1, 6-0.
Kvitova, seeded fourth, will play 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone for a place in the quarter-finals.
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic, the 14th seed, reached the last 16, coming from behind to clinch a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win against Germany’s Julia Goerges.
Ivanovic will play second seed Victoria Azarenka, a semi-finalist in 2011, who put out world number 178 Jana Cepelova, a Slovak qualifier, 6-3, 6-3.
Also going through was Austria’s Tamira Paszek who enjoyed a 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 win over Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer and will face Italian 21st seed Roberta Vinci who defeated Croatia qualifier Mirjana Lucic in two tie-break sets.