Hewitt packs off Del Potro early

Venus sails into round three; easy for Safina, Kuznetsova

Before the focus turned to Murray's latest hurdle in trying to become Britain's first men's singles champion in 73 years, Venus Williams, who between her and sister Serena have collected silverware in enormous quantities here, powered past Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko.

The American five-times champion, who cooled talk of injury despite a strapping on her left knee, powered through 6-3, 6-2 into the third round where she was joined by world number one Dinara Safina and French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In the men's singles Hewitt, the 2002 champion, rolled back the years with a clinical straight sets defeat of fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro, handing out a free lesson in the grasscourt arts to the towering Argentine.

Henman Hill was already heaving with crowds way before third seed Murray was due on court for his tricky second-round match against Latvian Ernests Gulbis with a crackling atmosphere guaranteed at the popular spot.

Thousands bit their nails on Tuesday as the Scot battled to victory over American Robert Kendrick and the 20-year-old Gulbis, tipped as future top-tenner, was confident of making life uncomfortable for Murray and his growing army of fans, some of whom walked through the gates wearing ginger wigs and kilts.

Murray, who received an official letter of congratulation from The Queen for his recent title at nearby Queen's Club, is seeking his first major but Thursday's schedule was littered with members of the exclusive club of grand slam champions.

Venus Williams, one of its most illustrious and who is seeking a hat-trick of titles here, looked in fine fettle as she went through the gears with ease against Bondarenko.
"I always felt like I needed to be the aggressive one and really take control of the point. That's really how I want to play throughout the championships," she said.

Quizzed about what was wrong with her knee, the 29-year-old proved evasive. "Support...," she told reporters. "I felt really comfortable in the strap it was really nice. I really hate tape, like hate. I just needed it this time. I realise that this is Wimbledon. So since it was Wimbledon, I taped."

While Venus had it taped, over on Centre Court, Hewitt was simply superb against rising force Del Potro, producing some trademark lobs and precision passing shots to keep the 20-year-old off balance.

"I haven't beaten a top five player for a long time. I was up for it today. I've played some big matches out here in the past and it's about handling the pressure," a delighted Hewitt, who is down at 56 in the ATP rankings, told the BBC.  "Juan Martin is a hell of a player -- he's got a lot of good years ahead of him but I played really well."

Women's fifth seed Kuznetsova, who won the French Open this month to add to the US Open crown she claimed in 2004, has never looked at home on grass.  However, the Russian put on an impressive show of force to thrash Pauline Parmentier of France 6-1, 6-3, crunching some hefty winners in a 60-minute breeze.

World number one and top seed Safina, beaten by Kuznetsova in the Roland Garros final, again failed to make Centre Court, moving past Paraguay's Rossana De Los Rios 6-3, 7-5 on Court Two.

Wimbledon results

Men’s singles:  6-Andy Roddick (US) bt Igor Kunitsyn (Rus) 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2; Andreas Seppi (Ita) bt Marc Gicquel (Fra) 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(3), 5-7, 6-4; 8-Gilles Simon (Fra) bt Thiago Alves (Bra) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) bt 5-Juan Martin del Potro (Arg) 6-3, 7-5, 7-5; 26-Juergen Melzer (Atr) bt Benjamin Becker (Ger) 7-6(6), 6-3, 7-6(1); 20-Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Paul-Henri Mathieu (Fra) 6-2, 6-4, 6-4; 31-Victor Hanescu (Rom) bt Nicolas Devilder (Fra) 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

Women’s singles: 1-Dinara Safina (Rus) bt Rossana De Los Rios (Par) 6-3, 7-5; 19-Li Na (Chn) bt Olga Govortsova (Bel) 6-4, 6-2; 11-Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Peng Shuai (Chn) 6-2, 6-7(6), 9-7; 18-Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Tatjana Malek (Ger) 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4; 3-Venus Williams (US) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukr) 6-3, 6-2; Carla Suarez Navarro (Esp) bt Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) 7-5, 4-6, 6-1; Sabine Lisicki (Ger) bt Patricia Mayr (Atr) 6-2, 6-4; 5-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) bt Pauline Parmentier (Fra) 6-1, 6-3.

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