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Federer drops a set, but advances

WIMBLEDON, England - Lo and behold, Roger Federer actually lost a set at Wimbledon on Friday.

Not a match, mind you, just a set, which in and of itself counts as news. Dating to the start of the 2003 tournament, after all, Federer is 43-1 at the All England Club, dropping a total of 11 sets along the way.

Here's the part that's interesting - and perhaps intimidating to future foes: Federer called his 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1 victory over 27th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the third round his best performance of the week. And now, because Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament that rests on the middle Sunday, Federer gets a full weekend for a little R-'n'-R.

'It's nice to have Saturday, Sunday off. It's nice get off all the pressure for a day or so before you get sucked into it again,' Federer said. 'I like to go to the city. I don't do it that often.'

So he'll head out to a nice dinner in London with his pregnant wife, then get back to work Monday, facing a familiar opponent: Robin Soderling, the man Federer beat in straight sets in the French Open final this month to complete a career Grand Slam and tie Pete Sampras' record of 14 major titles.

Federer is trying to break that mark by collecting No. 15 overall with a sixth Wimbledon championship this fortnight, while the 13th-seeded Soderling will make his debut in the round of 16 at the All England Club after beating Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-4.

Also moving into the fourth round: Dudi Sela, who beat No. 15 Tommy Robredo 7-6 (8), 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 and is the first Israeli man to make it this far at Wimbledon in 20 years; No. 4 Novak Djokovic, who eliminated No. 28 Mardy Fish of the United States in straight sets; No. 22 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, who hit 46 aces to knock off No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; and No. 7 Fernando Verdasco, who beat No. 32 Albert Montanes.

'In Israel, we have only hard courts, so I was expecting more to do better ... on the hard courts than on grass or clay,' said the 46th-ranked Sela, who now meets 2008 Australian Open champion Djokovic. 'But any Grand Slam fourth round, it's good, I think.'

Two marathon matches were suspended because of darkness, with No. 11 Marin Cilic and No. 24 Tommy Haas at 6-all in the fifth set, and No. 29 Igor Andreev leading Andreas Seppi 6-1, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 5-5. Those are scheduled to resume Saturday.

Friday's action also included the first departure by one of the top 10 women: No. 7 Vera Zvonareva didn't turn up for her match against No. 26 Virginie Razzano, citing an ankle injury. Serena Williams almost didn't make it to her court on time, appearing fashionably late to play Roberta Vinci of Italy.