Federer survives scare

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Updated: June 30, 2012

Six-time champion Roger Federer survived a huge scare to reach the Wimbledon last 16 on Friday while defending champion Novak Djokovic avoided another Czech Republic Centre Court ambush.

Federer came within two points of crashing to his worst Wimbledon defeat in 10 years before battling from two sets down to beat French 29th seed Julien Benneteau.

Federer clinched an eighth career fightback from two sets in arrears to win 4-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1 and will face unseeded Belgian Xavier Malisse for a place in the quarterfinals.

Djokovic, meanwhile, reached the last 16 with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over veteran Czech Radek Stepanek.

Top seed Djokovic overcame dropping his first set of the tournament to see off the 33-year-old.

The Serb goes on to play compatriot Victor Troicki, who put out Argentine 15th seed Juan Monaco 7-5, 7-5, 6-3, for a place in the quarterfinals.

French 18th seed Richard Gasquet, a semifinalist in 2007, beat 12th seed Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to claim a first win over the Spaniard in four meetings.

He will tackle German 31st seed Florian Mayer who edged Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Xavier Malisse of Belgium, who reached the last four in 2002, defeated Spanish 17th seed Fernando Verdasco 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 to set up a date with Federer.

Denis Istomin became the first Uzbek to make the last 16 when he defeated Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5).

He will face Russian 26th seed Mikhail Youzhny who saw off Serb eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

 World No 1 Maria Sharapova and four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters are on course for an emotional last eight clash at Wimbledon after breezing into the fourth round on Friday.

Sharapova cruised to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei despite blustery conditions on Court One playing havoc with her serve.

French Open champion Sharapova will play German 15th seed Sabine Lisicki for place in the quarterfinals in rematch of last year’s semifinal which the Russian won in straight sets.

Lisicki, who reached the last four as a wildcard in 2011, downed American teenager Sloane Stephens 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 6-2 and immediately set her sights on a revenge mission against Sharapova.

Clijsters, playing at Wimbledon for the last time, enjoyed an easier than expected path to the last 16 when breathing problems forced her 12th seeded Russian opponent Vera Zvonareva to quit.

Zvonareva, runner-up in the 2010 Wimbledon final, left Court One in tears after calling for a medical time-out midway through the second set.

She returned to play one more game but the breathing problem was still troubling her so she retired with 29-year-old Clijsters 6-3, 4-3 ahead.

Next up for Clijsters is a clash with Angelique Kerber, the eighth seeded German who will be playing in the fourth round for the first time after a 6-2, 6-3 win against Christina McHale of the United States.

If Sharapova and former world No 1 Clijsters both come through their last 16 matches unscathed the two giants of the women’s game will clash for a place in the semifinals.

Elsewhere, Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska ended Heather Watson’s fairytale run with a ruthless 6-0, 6-2 victory in just 58 minutes.