Serena on track as spit probe starts

London: Defending women’s champion Serena Williams remains on course to successfully defend her title after moving into the fourth round with a 6-0, 7-5 win over Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday, while officials start to probe the Victor Hanescu spitting row.

Serena had lost just five games in the first two rounds at the All England Club and she gave another dominant display against Slovakian world number 46 Cibulkova in the third round.

The American, who has lifted the Venus Rosewater dish awarded to the women’s champion three times, clearly has no intention of expending unnecessary energy here - with her victory over Anna Chakvetadze in the second round taking just 49 minutes.

Serena, who plays Maria Sharapova or Barbora Zahlavova Strycova next, continued that trend as she won the first set without dropping a game for the third successive match before closing out the tie by breaking in the 12th game of the second set.

That was a far more sedate encounter than Romanian 31st seed Hanescu’s meeting with Daniel Brands.

Hanescu allegedly spat at the crowd before quitting his third round men’s singles match on Friday.

He had blown a two-set lead and fell behind in the deciding set before the spitting incident, which reportedly followed heckling by fans on Court 18.

Hanescu then appeared to deliberately foot-fault and double-fault before retiring from the match, citing a leg injury. Four spectators were also arrested during the match but it is uncertain if they were involved in the row.

Williams was followed onto Centre Court by world number one Rafael Nadal, who plays German 33rd seed Philipp Petzschner.

Nadal declined an invitation to meet the Queen on Thursday because he preferred not to disrupt his usual pre-match routine.

French Open champion Nadal delivered a surprisingly erratic display before finally beating Robin Haase in five sets and will be looking to improve against Petzschner.

After that, Britain’s Andy Murray takes on French 26th seed Gilles Simon.

Murray, who reached the semi-finals here last year, has yet to drop a set and demolished Jarkko Nieminen in front of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, although the Australian Open finalist could face a sterner test from Simon, who was ranked as high as sixth in the world last year.

There was an early surprise today when women’s 14th seed Victoria Azarenka was beaten 7-5, 6-0 in the third round by world number 62 Petra Kvitova.

Chinese ninth seed Li Na was never in danger of following Azarenka out as she routed Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 6-3.

Also through to the last 16 was Polish seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Sara Errani, the Italian 32nd seed, 6-3, 6-1.

Bureau Report

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