The Swiss had to fight to a fifth set to overcome Bennetau, while Verdasco and Almagro fell in the third round, leaving David Ferrer as the only Spaniard left standing.
Roger Federer had to dig deep to get through his third round match against Frenchman Julien Benneteau in an encounter which saw the Swiss having to claw his way back from two sets down. The first two slipped away from him (4-6, 6-7) and though he won the third, he came very close to defeat in the next. But he was able to draw on his vast reserves of experience to win 7-6 and force the match into a fifth set. From then on it was suddenly one-way traffic as he cruised to a 6-1 victory to seal out the tie. The Swiss is through to the fourth round, then, where he will come up against Malisse. He will be looking to take advantage of Nadal’s absence to conquer his seventh Wimbledon title.
Meanwhile, the Spanish presence continues to wane. Added to Rafa Nadal’s exit yesterday were the eliminations of Fernando Verdasco and Nicolás Almagro who, after bowing out at the third round, have left David Ferrer as the only member of the “Armada” still in the running in London.
Fernando Verdasco fell after five sets to Xavier Malisse in a match in which the Spaniard got off to flying start with a 6-1 opener, lost the second in a tie-break, was thrashed 1-6 in the third and held fast in the fourth, taking it 6-4 and forcing the tie-break. But at 3-4 down, he dropped his serve, leaving the door open for Malisse to serve to seal out the tie 3-6.
Nicolás Almagro was well beaten by Richard Gasquet (3-6, 4-6, 4-6), the number 18 leaving the number 12 by the wayside and with ambitions to keep moving forward in the competition.
Tomorrow David Ferrer will enter the fray and will have to do so against big-hitter Andy Roddick. He will be looking to keep hopes of a Spanish champion alive and reach the fourth round on what his been the best year of his career so far.