Berdych hits his stride for another tilt at glory

Last year's runner-up Tomas Berdych yesterday reached Wimbledon's third round for the seventh consecutive year. The sixth seed coped admirably with the rain delay to defeat the Frenchman Julien Benneteau on Court One in a little over an hour and a half, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

The 25-year-old Czech, who last year beat both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, has not yet come close to losing a set, and, with a grass-court title in his locker (Halle in 2007) might again upset the seeding. He has certainly hit some impressive form this year, reaching at least the quarter-final stage in no fewer than 10 events.

Looking almost as impressive was Benneteau's compatriot Richard Gasquet, a former semi-finalist here, who beat Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Gasquet, who missed last year's Wimbledon with a rib injury, is on course to meet Andy Murray in the fourth round. He has a game perfectly suited to grass, and Murray will not necessarily relish the prospect.

Elsewhere, the No 10 seed Mardy Fish, who in April this year displaced Andy Roddick as the top American in the world rankings, beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. It was their first meeting but what might be called his anti-Istomin strategy seemed to work well for 29-year-old Fish, even if he had to work hard in deploying it. He won 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 16 minutes, and will have high hopes in his 34th Grand Slam event of improving on his record so far; two quarter-finals, at the Australian Open in 2007, and the 2008 US Open, are as far as he has gone.

As for Istomin, he accounted in the first round last year for Stanislas Wawrinka, and the Swiss No 14 seed had another bad day yesterday. He lost in straight sets to Simone Bolelli of Italy, who in reaching the third round equals his best-ever Grand Slam performance.

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