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Weekend at Bernie’s!: Australia’s Tomic storms into fourth round at Wimbledon

Australian Bernard Tomic raises his hands in triumph after upsetting No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet in the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday at the All England Club.

Australian Bernard Tomic raises his hands in triumph after upsetting No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet in the third round of Wimbledon on Saturday at the All England Club.

WIMBLEDON, England — Bernard Tomic sent ninth seed Richard Gasquet tumbling out of Wimbledon on Saturday in a thrilling clash between Aussie brawn and Gallic flair.

Dogged persistence won the lanky Tomic a place in the last 16 as he defeated the elegant Frenchman, 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5), after a cliffhanger on the sun-kissed Centre Court.

The 20-year-old Tomic was the picture of consistency on the biggest stage in tennis, holding his nerve in two tight tiebreaks against a grasscourt specialist who just could not break the Australian’s rhythm.

Tomic has kept his focus despite his father and coach John facing a court case for allegedly assaulting his son’s former practice partner, Frenchman Thomas Drouet. Tomic Sr., has been suspended from ATP events pending the outcome of the case.

Saturday’s action beyond Tomic’s upset win was rather tame.

Novak Djokovic continued to match title rival Andy Murray stride for stride with a nonchalant march into the last 16 as the leading seeds flourished in the Wimbledon sunshine on Saturday.

The Serbian world No. 1 neutralised Frenchman Jeremy Chardy with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory in 86 minutes and, like Murray, has now won all nine sets he has played.

American Serena Williams, bidding to equal Roger Federer’s 17 grand slam titles by successfully defending her crown, has also been blemish-free and offered no concessions to 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm under the Centre Court roof.

The women’s top seed was scheduled last on Court One but with other matches dragging on she was switched across to Centre where she dispatched the Japanese veteran 6-2 6-0 in an hour.

While Djokovic and Murray have been in perfect harmony, elsewhere the opening week has been a turbulent one with a head-spinning spate of shocks, injuries and withdrawals.

Surprises were thinner on the ground on Day Six with men’s fourth seed David Ferrer coming closest to falling through the trapdoor before battling back to beat unorthodox Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in five sets to reach the fourth round.

The 31-year-old was joined there by 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych, the Czech seventh seed, who beat giant South African Kevin Anderson for the ninth time in a row, and Argentine number eight seed Juan Martin del Potro who survived a collision with a court-side chair to overpower Slovenian Grega Zemlja.

As in the men’s draw, only six of the Top 16 women have reached Monday’s fourth round which will feature a total of nine players aged 30 or over — equaling a professional era record at Wimbledon.

Australian 14th seed Samantha Stosur was the main casualty in the women’s singles on Saturday, losing to Germany’s Sabine Lisick.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori also fell short, the 12th seed losing a long match to Italy’s Andreas Seppi who has now won his last seven matches that have gone the five-set distance.

Women’s fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, last year’s runner-up, ended the run of American teenager Madison Keys in a hard-fought three-setter, while sixth-seeded Chinese Li Na and former champion Petra Kvitova, the Czech eighth seed, remained in contention after also being taken the distance.

The queue at the medical room has shrunk since Wipeout Wednesday when seven players withdrew or retired but Dutchman Igor Sijsling quit mid-match against Ivan Dodig on Saturday to take the total to a tournament record-equalling 13.

Croatia’s Dodig, who is up against Ferrer next, has reached the fourth round despite finishing only one match.

With Murray enjoying a day of leisure - apart from a brief appearance on Centre Court as part of a celebration of some of Britain’s Olympians from London 2012 - Britain’s Laura Robson kept the home pot bubbling when she came back from the brink to beat New Zealander Marina Erakovic, prompting resounding cheers around the grounds.

Robson, a former junior champion, won, 1-6 7-5 6-3 to become the first British woman to reach the fourth round for 15 years.

Victory over unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi would put her on collision course with five-times champion Williams who stretched her winning streak to 34 when demolishing Date-Krumm.

Williams walked on court stoney-faced and said she had been slightly puzzled by the scheduling.

“I was a little surprised I was playing third after two men’s matches,” the 31-year-old, who has dropped only 11 games to reach the fourth round, said.

Her patience was rewarded with her first night outing under the Wimbledon roof which slid shut to allow its lighting system to illuminate her latest dazzling display.

“I love the atmosphere. I love the sound that the ball makes,” she said.