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Verdasco, Cilic Battle Into Third Round; Llodra Crashes Out

London, England

Fernando Verdasco© Getty Images

Seventh seed Fernando Verdasco, the highest-ranked Spaniard in the draw after defending champion Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal, required two hours and 55 minutes to overcome 27-year-old Kristof Vliegen of Belgium in a battle of the big servers at The Championships on Wednesday. Verdasco, who hit 20 aces in a 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-4 win, is seeded to meet five-time former champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.

“I believe in my game,” said Verdasco. “I’m a realist. I need to go match-by-match and try to keep improving every match, keep playing better every day.” He will next meet compatriot and No. 32 seed Albert Montanes, who knocked out Guillermo Canas of Argentina 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Croatian No. 11 seed Marin Cilic prevailed in a tight second-round match against Sam Querrey on Centre Court, earning double match point when his American opponent double-faulted and closing out the win 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4 as Querrey's return flew long. Querrey had held a chance to serve for a two-set lead before the 20-year-old Cilic gained control of the match.

Cilic, the youngest player remaining in the men's singles draw, next faces his first career meeting with former World No. 2 Tommy Haas. The 31-year-old German, who clinched his first grass-court title two weeks ago in Halle with victory over Novak Djokovic in the final, advanced when Frenchman Michael Llodra retired early into the second-round match following an unexpected collision.

With Haas leading 3-2, Llodra retrieved a ball on the outermost edge of the court when a drop shot from the German sent him sprinting towards the net. But his sheer impetus meant he could not stop and he crashed into the umpire’s chair and fell on top of a ball girl crouched by the net. Two games later, after treatment from a trainer, Llodra called it a day.

Robin Soderling, the Swedish 13th seed who defeated Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros en route to the final, advanced to The Championships third round for the third time. Soderling withstood 23 aces from Marcel Granollers' racquet to record a 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4, 7-5 win over the Spaniard in two hours and 46 minutes.

"It was a really tough match," said Soderling. "I guess I played a little bit better in my first match. I didn't really find any rhythm at all today, but I still won the match, which is very good." Soderling, who also reached the third round in 2003 and 2007, will next meet Nicolas Almagro – a 6-4, 7-6(2), 3-6, 3-6, 7-5 winner over Slovakian lucky loser Karol Beck.

Rainer Schuettler’s hopes of replicating his dramatic run to the 2008 semi-finals came to an end when he was beaten 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 by Israeli Dudi Sela. Schuettler, the German No. 18 seed, led 5-2 in the first set before Sela showcased some glorious backhand and drop shot winners.

“He played well,” said Schuettler. “He’s a very complete player. He plays very solid with a very good backhand, doesn't serve so hot, but very consistent.” Sela goes on to meet 15th seed Tommy Robredo of Spain in the third round.

Croatian 22nd seed Ivo Karlovic hit 24 aces past Steve Darcis of Belgium in a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win in one hour and 43 minutes. Karlovic sets up a mouth-watering clash against ninth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga progressed to the third round without hitting a ball earlier on Wednesday, when a back injury forced the withdrawal of his Italian opponent Simone Bolelli. The World No. 63 felt a twinge in his back during a first-round doubles match on Tuesday.

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