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Federer claims another British scalp, rain forces middle Sunday play

Roger Federer shakes hands with Britain's Daniel Evans after winning their match

ELEGANT executioner Roger Federer dropped Dan Evans through the Wimbledon trap door on Friday as he reached the fourth round of the grasscourt major with a bloodless 6-4 6-2 6-2 victory.

Forty eight hours after slaying world number 772 Marcus Willis, Federer claimed a second successive British scalp as he reached the second week without dropping a set at this year’s championships.

Evans, the once bad boy of British tennis, was on a roll this week as never before had he won a match at the All England Club, let alone two in a row.

But if Evans, the son on an electrician, harboured hopes of going deeper into the tournament, it was not long before the seven-times champion pulled the plug on his dreams on a floodlit Centre Court.

The Swiss third seed chalked up his 150th grasscourt win with an unreturnable serve as he became the first, and so far only, man to reach the fourth round of the rain ravaged tournament.

Also on Centre Court, Serena Williams composed herself after a first-set loss and a burst of anger that made her smash her racket, to beat tenacious fellow American Christina McHale in a tense second-round match.

The defending champion finally ran out a 6-7(7) 6-2 6-4 winner against the world number 65, marching on in her quest to emulate Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 grand slam singles titles.

Williams thought she had won the first set and was walking back to her chair after a McHale forehand was called long with the world number one 5-4 and 40-30 up. To her chagrin, however, a Hawkeye challenge showed the ball brushing the baseline.

McHale went on to win the game and force a tiebreak in which a rattled Williams made a string of errors, including two double faults, before burying a forehand into the net to lose the set.

Furious as she sat down, she repeatedly hammered her racket into the ground in frustration before hurling it behind her.

“I was just really, really, really angry. I had a lot of chances,” Williams told reporters after the match, adding that she would “definitely” be fined.

Meanwhile, hopes of a British woman reaching Wimbledon’s third round were extinguished when wildcard Tara Moore was beaten by 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 2-6 6-3.

Moore, ranked 227th, had topped her previous Wimbledon best by even making it past the first round and looked like she was going to pull off an unlikely victory over the former U.S. and French Open champion when she stormed through the second set.

But the Russian prevailed, breaking early in the third set before pulling away for the win in front of a boisterous Court Three home crowd desperate for something to cheer after a tough day of rain delays.

Novak Djokovic’s hopes of a calendar year grand slam were hanging by a thread as he slipped two sets down to big-serving American Sam Querrey before rain stopped their Wimbledon third- round clash.

On an infuriating day of delays, world number one Djokovic had to wait until nearly 7pm local time to walk out on Court One and little more than an hour later he walked off trailing 7-6(6) 6-1 to the 28th seed.

Having lost the opening set on a tiebreak the 29-year-old Serb, who is on a 30-match winning streak in grand slams, looked all at sea in the second as Querrey took it in 22 minutes.

At that point a heavy rain shower sent the players scuttling off court and play was called off shortly afterwards.

Defending champion Djokovic will return today hoping to repeat his comeback from two sets down against Kevin Anderson in last year’s fourth round, a match that also spanned two days.

Matches will be played on the middle tomorrow for the first time since 2004 after heavy downpours continued to plague the rain-ravaged tournament on Friday.

With play badly disrupted on Tuesday, Wednesday and again on Friday, meaning three second-round singles matches were still to be completed on day five, organisers have been forced to take advantage of what is usually a rest day.

The middle Sunday was first used in 1991 and again in 1997.

The fixture backlog meant 16 second-round singles matches were still to be completed at the start of play on Friday, but another stop-start day meant not all were completed.

In rain-free years, Friday would mark the first day of third-round matches in both the men’s and women’s singles competitions.

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