Serena leads past champs into Round 4

Jun 25 2011 - 6:43pm

WIMBLEDON, England -- Serena Williams has been known to say she isn't satisfied with this or that aspect of her game, even after easily winning a match, say, 6-3, 6-2.

So it was somehow refreshing to hear Williams actually praise herself after a victory by that very score over 26th-seeded Maria Kirilenko at Wimbledon on Saturday.

Yes, only five matches since returning to the tour after nearly a full year off because of a series of health scares, Williams produced a performance worthy of the 13-time Grand Slam champion that she is. And then Williams talked the talk of someone finally ready to concede that British bookmakers might very well have been right to make her the pre-tournament favorite.

Asked whether she was surprised by the odds, the seventh-seeded American smiled widely and said: "I wouldn't bet against me."

After hitting 10 aces and compiling a 32-9 edge in winners against Kirilenko, Williams termed the showing her "best I've played since I came back."

"I was a little more consistent, and I played my game more," said Williams, trying to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles. "Wasn't as tight and nervous and uptight. I was able to relax more today."

She was part of a parade of past champions who breezed into the fourth round Saturday, joined by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, who all were straight-set winners, too. Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, seeking her first Grand Slam title, and two-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who is now 44-1 in 2011, also moved on.

There were two upsets of some significance.

Two-time French Open finalist Robin Soderling, who was seeded fifth, was dealing with stomach problems and bowed out meekly against 158th-ranked qualifier Bernard Tomic of Australia 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

Tomic is the first 18-year-old to reach the men's fourth round at Wimbledon since Michael Chang and Goran Ivanisevic in 1990.

"I was very calm, but inside I was bursting. I tried not to show it to him. He was getting a bit frustrated," Tomic said. "The way I've been playing is really good. If I can keep it up like this, who knows?"

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