Seven-time champion Roger Federer put on an evening masterclass after world No 1 Rafael Nadal laboured his way through to the third round at Wimbledon.
A breezy win over Gilles Muller of Luxembourg under the roof on Centre Court carried Federer through, while Nadal found a way past old foe Lukas Rosol on the same stage after staving off a major scare.
Swiss fourth seed Federer – aiming to eclipse the record of seven open era titles that he shares with Pete Sampras –cruised to a 6-3 7-5 6-3 win over Muller in barely an hour and a half, with the match interrupted when referee Andrew Jarrett decided to close the roof as rain clouds drew near.
“I am happy I made it, because it was a bit of a serving contest, and was tough with the rain delay,” said Federer who showed no ill effects from a tumble when coming to the net.
“I was glad to get the break in the second set. You have to keep working hard.”
Earlier, there had been the threat of another storm for Nadal, who eventually battled back to beat Rosol 4-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 6-4 and avenge his defeat by the big-serving Czech two years ago.
The French Open champion dropped the opener and had to save the second set in a tie-break, in which he was 5-3 down, before finding the momentum to eventually end Rosol’s bold challenge.
“I needed to find the solution. Finally I did, and that is the most important thing,” said the Spaniard, who will tackle Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in round three.
While Federer was able to continue his match under the roof, play on the outside courts was called off just before 8pm as wet weather set in for the night, with more unsettled spells expected over the next couple of days.
On Court Two, former Wimbledon champion Leyton Hewitt was a set down to Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz at 7-5 4-4 when the covers came on.
Elsewhere earlier on day four, No 8 seed Milos Raonic continued to impress as the Canadian saw off America’s Jack Sock 6-3 6-4 6-4 to reach the last 32.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was made to wait again for his victory over Sam Querrey of America, coming through an epic clash 4-6 7-6 (7/2) 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 14-12 which had been held over from Wednesday, with the deciding set tied at 9-9 overnight.
That match concluded on Court Two, after 19-year-old Australian wild card Nick Kyrgios caused an upset by coming from two sets behind to knock out 13th seed Richard Gasquet, of France, 3-6 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 7-5 10-8 after saving nine match points.
Fifth-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka saw off Lu Yen-hsun of Chinese Taipei 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 3-6 7-5.
John Isner, meanwhile, won the second longest men’s tie-break in Wimbledon history when he claimed the first-set breaker 19-17 against Jarkko Nieminen, before going on to close out victory over the Finn in straight sets. In 2010, the American, the last from his country left in the men’s singles, played out an extraordinary 11 hours and five minutes first-round match with Nicolas Mahut, eventually claiming the deciding set 70-68.
Gael Monfils, who was Wimbledon junior champion in 2004, bowed out as he went down in five sets to 20-year-old Jiri Vesely. The big-serving Czech won 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 6-7 (1/7) 6-7 (7/9) 6-4 in more than three hours.
Tenth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan defeated American Denis Kudla 6-3 6-2 6-1, and Spain’s Tommy Robredo, seeded 23rd, also moved through to the last 32 after seeing off Adrian Mannarino of France 6-4 6-1 7-6 (7/5).
Women’s No 5 seed Maria Sharapova breezed by Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky, 6-2 6-1, while Serena Williams won 6-1 6-1 against South African Chanelle Scheepers.
France’s Alize Cornet beat Williams in the Dubai semi-finals in February, and set up another shot at the 17-time grand slam winner by fending off Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-4 5-7 6-3.
Canadian 13th seed Eugenie Bouchard proved too strong for Spaniard Silvia Soler Espinosa, posting a 7-5 6-1 win. Andrea Petkovic, the 20th seed from Germany, stands in Bouchard’s way of making further progress after a 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory against Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.
Other seeded winners included Ana Ivanovic, last year’s runner-up Sabine Lisicki and Kirsten Flipkens, but 15th seed Carla Suarez Navarro bowed out, the Spaniard beaten 7-6 (14/12) 5-7 6-2 by Kazakh player Zarina Diyas.