Wimbledon, England – Reigning champion Novak Djokovic and six-time titlist Roger Federer both notched come-from-behind third-round wins Friday at The Championships, Wimbledon.
The world No. 1 Djokovic dropped the first set against Czech veteran Radek Stepanek before charging back for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory over his 28th-seeded counterpart, while a third-seeded Federer came from two-sets- to-love down to sneak past more-than-game 29th-seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau in five sets, 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, under the roof on Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Morning rain caused a delay and prompted officials to close the translucent covering over tennis' most famous court, but it was not raining when Djokovic or Federer took to the court.
"I was a little bit surprised, when I saw sunshine, that the roof is closed," Djokovic said. "Obviously they're relying on a forecast that I don't think is very reliable here. But OK."
The high-flying Djokovic advanced in 2 hours, 49 minutes and broke the 33- year-old Stepanek seven times while getting broken only once and smacking nine aces.
"I was a set down but managed to make the crucial break in the opening game of the second set," Djokovic said. "And then I thought I played really well."
The Serbian star is now 30-1 over his last five majors and 42-2 over his last seven Grand Slams.
The 25-year-old Djokovic reached his first-ever Wimbledon final and captured his first-ever title here with a victory over Rafael Nadal a year ago. Nadal beat Djokovic in the French Open final 18 days ago, but the mighty Spaniard will not appear in a sixth straight Grand Slam title match after being shocked by 100th-ranked Czech Lukas Rosol under the roof on Centre Court on Thursday night.
Djokovic's round-of-16 opponent on Monday will be will fellow Serb Viktor Troicki, who upended 15th-seeded Argentine Juan Monaco 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 on Day 5 of this fortnight.
Meanwhile, Federer was tested mightily by Benneteau, who was two points away from a huge upset on three occasions in the fourth set.
Benneteau raced out to the two-set lead before Federer rebounded with an easy third-set win.
The fourth set was intense, as Federer forced the tiebreak with a brilliant service game. The super Swiss converted on his second set point when Benneteau netted a forehand, and the Frenchman then fell apart, physically, in the fifth set.
The 16-time major champion Federer was up 2-1 in the final stanza when Benneteau summoned a trainer while suffering with leg cramps. Four games later, it was over, as the Frenchman netted one final backhand after 3 hours, 34 minutes of compelling tennis.
"I'm very fortunate," Federer said after the match.
Federer fired 14 aces and broke Benneteau five times, while the Frenchman settled for only two breaks and struck 15 aces in a losing cause.
It marked Federer's second two-sets-to-love down comeback at the AELTC, as he also overcame Colombian Alejandro Falla here two years ago.
The brave Benneteau suffered a small bone break in his wrist just six weeks ago.
Up next for the iconic Federer will be Belgian Xavier Malisse.
A top-10 upset occurred when 26th-seeded Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny dismissed eighth-seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Youzhny is into the Wimbledon round of 16 for a seventh time, but has yet to reach a quarterfinal at the AELTC. Tipsarevic typically plays his worst tennis on grass, as evidenced by his inability to get past the second round here the last four years.
Nifty 18th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet still has yet to drop a set after upending 12th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, while Malisse also posted a third-round upset by tackling 17th-seeded Spanish lefthander Fernando Verdasco in five sets, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Gasquet was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2007. while the 31-year-old Malisse reached the Wimbledon semis 10 years ago.
The second round concluded Friday when 6-foot-6 American Sam Querrey surprised rising 21st-seeded Canadian slugger Milos Raonic 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 in a match that was completed Friday after being suspended because of darkness on Thursday. The two players combined for 46 aces, including 25 from Raonic.
Querrey will meet 16th-seeded Croat Marin Cilic on Saturday.
Additional third-round results saw 31st-seeded German Florian Mayer hold off 6-foot-8 Pole Jerzy Janowicz 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, and Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin pop 16 aces and dismiss the aforementioned Falla 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5). Mayer will meet Gasquet, while Istomin will encounter Youzhny on Monday.
The third round is scheduled to wrap up on Saturday, including matches for fourth-seeded British favorite Andy Murray and three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick. The three-time Grand Slam runner-up and three-time Wimbledon semifinalist Murray will take on capable Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, while a 30th-seeded Roddick should have his hands full with seventh-seeded David Ferrer of Spain.
The former world No. 1 Roddick lost to Federer in a trio of past finals at the AELTC.
Also slated for action on Saturday are fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, former U.S. Open champ Juan Martin del Potro, 10th-seeded American Mardy Fish, and American comeback kid Brian Baker, who recently returned to the tour for the first time since the mid 2000s after having a bevy of surgeries.