Major champions Iga Swiatek and Garbiñe Muguruza notched clinical second-round victories at Wimbledon on Wednesday, as they edge closer to a possible clash in the round of 16.
No.7 seed Swiatek of Poland was the first of the pair to advance into the third round by dismissing 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva of Russia, 6-1, 6-3, in a smidge over an hour on No.2 Court.
"Every match gives me an opportunity to have more and more confidence," Swiatek said, in her post-match press conference. "So I'm pretty happy with my performance today."
2020 Roland Garros champion Swiatek had gone 0-2 against Russians this season, but the Pole was able to end that streak and defeat former World No.2 Zvonareva in their first meeting.
"Playing such an experienced player is never easy," Swiatek said. "I didn't know what to expect at the beginning, because she has many years of playing on grass and I have only two, basically. So I wanted to be aggressive from the beginning and just play really powerful. And I did that, so I'm pretty happy."
Swiatek converted five of her 11 break points in the clash, collecting eight of Zvonareva's ten second-service points to be the dominant force on return.
2017 Wimbledon champion Muguruza followed Swiatek into the second round, after the No.11 seed from Spain eased past Dutch qualifier Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, 6-1, 6-4 on No.3 Court.
The duo had faced off once before, also on grass, at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2014. Former World No.1 Muguruza needed just 68 minutes to claim a second consecutive straight-set victory over Pattinama Kerkhove and move into the third round of Wimbledon for the third time.
Muguruza's results this week portend good things for the Spaniard -- in the two previous times she has made it this far at Wimbledon, she has gone on to the final, with a 2015 runner-up performance preceding her 2017 Wimbledon crown.
For Pattinama Kerkhove, a career-best major performance comes to an end. The World No.174 saved two match points during her run through qualifying, then defeated another former Grand Slam champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, to earn her first main-draw win at a major.
It took a sterling performance by Muguruza on Wednesday to stop Pattinama Kerkhove. Two-time major champion Muguruza fired 22 winners, more than double that of her opponent, and won 81 percent of points behind her first service.
After a dominant opening frame, Muguruza was pushed much harder by Pattinama Kerkhove in the second set. The qualifier saved two break points before holding for 3-2, and took that momentum to break service behind solid depth of return and lead 4-2.
But Muguruza struck back right away, using a deep backhand of her own to convert a break point in the very next game and pull back on serve. That kicked off a run of four straight games for Muguruza, as she boomed sublime serves and blistering backhands to romp through the rest of the match.
Good friends and former Top 10 players Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys also booked spots in the third round at Wimbledon.
2017 US Open champion Stephens defeated her fellow American, lucky loser Kristie Ahn, 7-5, 6-3, on No.3 Court just before sunset. Stephens followed up her upset of two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova with the one-hour and 44-minute win over Ahn.
Ahn, who saved a match point to defeat Heather Watson in the first round, had beaten Stephens in their two previous meetings, which came at ITF Challenger events well over a decade ago.
However, Stephens, now a US Open champion, Roland Garros finalist, and former World No.3, avenged those losses on the grass at Wimbledon, as she moved into the third round for the sixth time in her career.
2013 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Stephens converted six of her 12 break points to grind through two tough sets as she outmanned the determined lucky loser, breaking Ahn's serve in two of the last three games to set up a third-round encounter with powerful wildcard Liudmila Samsonova, the recent Berlin titlist.
No.23 seed Keys, who fell to her friend Stephens in the 2017 US Open final, also triumphed in an all-American second-round tilt, defeating Lauren Davis, 6-1, 6-4, in just over an hour.
Keys, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2015, also has not dropped a set this week, as she improved to 4-2 (and 2-0 on grass) against World No.91 Davis.
The 22 winners from the racquet of Keys exactly doubled the Davis winner count, as the former World No.7 set up an intriguing third-round clash with No.13 seed Elise Mertens.