LONDON (AFP) - Roger Federer scorched into the third round at Wimbledon, dropping just seven games in a brisk straight sets dismissal of French journeyman Adrian Mannarino.
The Swiss former world number one served notice that he is in prime form as he chases a record seventh Wimbledon crown after routing Mannarino 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in just under 90 minutes to delight the Centre Court faithful.
“I think I served great in the beginning and was able to sort of keep that going for the remainder of the match,” said Federer, who is hoping to build on his fine form at the French Open, where he lost in the final to Rafael Nadal.
“I think I’ve played well for a year now. I think the French Open was just proof that I’m in good shape and physically and mentally in a good place.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t win it, but I didn’t get pulled down by losing in the final. I hope I can make a run here.”
Federer will now play Argentinian veteran David Nalbandian for a place in the last 16 on Saturday. Federer was joined in the third round by second seed Novak Djokovic and fifth seed Robin Soderling, who overcame Lleyton Hewitt in a thrilling five-setter. Djokovic -- who has lost only one match all year -- maintained his red-hot form with a ruthless straight sets win over South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, prevailing 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Djokovic, who is seeded to face Federer in the semi-finals, had too much class for his plucky opponent, dominating him at both the baseline and the net.
While Djokovic blasted his way into the last 64 of the men’s singles, Sweden’s Soderling was given a punishing examination by Hewitt on Centre Court before finally prevailing 6-7 (5/7), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
It was the first time in Soderling’s career that he had recovered after dropping the opening two sets, a psychological millstone that the 26-year-old was delighted to rid himself of.
Soderling now faces either Australian youngster Bernard Tomic or Russia’s Igor Andreev in the next round.
But it was a disappointing loss for Hewitt, whose world ranking plunged to a 13-year low of 130 earlier this month following a miserable sequence of results.
In other matches, Argentinian 24th seed Juan Martin Del Potro came from behind to down Olivier Rochus of Belgium in four sets, 6-7 (7/9), 6-1, 6-0, 6-4.
On women’s side, German whirlwind Sabine Lisicki blew China’s French Open champion Li Na out of Wimbledon as the Asia’s first Grand Slam winner wilted under the most intimidating service in the women’s game.
Third seeded Li slumped to a 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 second round loss to wildcard Lisicki who saved two match points in the ninth game of the third set with back-to-back serves which cracked the 120mph barrier.
Lisicki collapsed to her knees in tears on the covered Centre Court when she clinched the gripping tie with victory secured on her third match point in the 14th game of the deciding set.
It was the German’s booming serve which proved crucial as she fired 17 aces and powered down 21 winners in the 2hr 11min encounter.
“From the first point until the end of the match, every serve was like 117mph. It’s impossible for women,” said Li.
“We both played a great match. I was just a little unlucky. I had two match points but I couldn’t do anything about them.”
The 21-year-old Lisicki, whose career suffered a huge setback in 2010 when a serious left ankle injury sidelined her for four months, will tackle Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi for a place in the last 16.
She next faces Japanese qualifier Misaki Doi, who put out China’s Zheng Jie, and will again be looking to capitalise on her booming serve.
“I have always had a powerful serve. I think it’s one of the best on women’s tennis,” said the world number 62.
Defending champion Serena Williams struggled over three sets to defeat Romanian teenager Simona Halep 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, before sparking a sexism storm after her match was relegated to Court Two.
The four-time winner insisted that reigning men’s champion Rafael Nadal and second seed Novak Djokovic would never be treated with the same lack of respect.
It is not the first time Serena and sister Venus -- a five-time Wimbledon champion -- have had to play away from the showpiece Centre Court and Court One.
Williams’s next opponent is Russia’s Maria Kirilenko who defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn in the Thai’s 15th consecutive Wimbledon.
Serbian 18th seed Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion and who made the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2007, eased past Greek world number 121 Eleni Daniilidou 6-3, 6-0.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Russian 12th seed, and a two-time Grand Slam title winner, beat Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru 6-0, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, the 19th seed.
Birthday girl Francesca Schiavone, the sixth seed and 2010 Roland Garros champion, was also a winner on the day she turned 30 as the Italian beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-3.