Special Federer makes light work of Berdych challenge

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The Independent Online

Roger Federer was in imperious form as he booked his place in the quarter- finals with victory over Tomas Berdych.

The Czech is one of just a handful of players to have beaten Federer in the last two years, winning their second-round meeting at the Athens Olympics in 2004. But Federer has won all three of their matches since, including the final of the warm-up event in Halle recently, and yesterday he ruthlessly disposed of Berdych 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 on Centre Court.

Berdych had saved two break points earlier in the first set when he let a backhand passing shot from Federer in the seventh game drop on to the baseline, clearly thinking it was going long. A forehand wide then gave Federer the break and the world No 1 broke his 20-year-old opponent again to win the set in 27 minutes.

Berdych, the world No 14 and 13th seed, admitted before the match it would take "something special" to beat the three-times Wimbledon champion on grass. But the only special tennis was coming from the Swiss, who saved a break point in the opening game of the second set but from then on was never seriously troubled.

Federer broke in the eighth game and served out with an ace in the next to take a two-set lead. The champion was in dominant form on his serve, holding to love three times in a row during the third set.

With the set poised at 4-4, the 24-year-old produced an array of superb returns and groundstrokes to break serve with almost contemptuous ease. And the clock on the scoreboard showed one hour and 23 minutes had elapsed when Federer duly served out to complete victory and book his place in the last eight.

Federer, who has been broken once in four matches, served 21 aces, faced only one break point and lost just three points on serve in the last set. He gave a thumbs-up sign to the fans as he left Centre Court wearing his customised cream-coloured sports jacket.

The Swiss player will next take on the big-serving Croat Mario Ancic -the last man to defeat him on grass, in 2002, or the talented Serb Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Rafael Nadal remained on course for a Grand Slam double as he took apart the Georgian qualifier Irakli Labadze 6-3 in the opening set of their fourth-round match on Court One.

The French Open champion and No 2 seed was quick to take command against the world No 166, who had reached the last 16 of a major championship for the first time when, in the previous round, Mardy Fish was forced to retire.

Labadze simply had no answer to the young Spaniard's range of shots as Nadal, 20, moved to the net to pave the way for an early break of serve. The world No 2 held his next service game to love, which included an 111 mph ace, and was 4-1 ahead of Labadze in rapid time.

Labadze, who has been nicknamed "Freak Show" for a history of ill-tempered behaviour on court, was struggling to keep pace and the Georgian was soon serving to save the set.

Although the 25-year-old held to love, Nadal made no mistake in game nine - and then won a second-set tie-break to leave him with the scent of victory in his nostrils.