LONDON — Petra Kvitova, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Daniil Medvedev were in cruise control at Wimbledon.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova stayed on track for a third title by beating Serbian qualifier Natalija Stevanovic 6-3, 7-5.
The Czech former world number two has pedigree on grass but has only made it past the third round once since she claimed her second title at the All England Club in 2014.
The ninth seed, who warmed up for Wimbledon by winning the WTA tournament on grass in Berlin last month, swapped early breaks with Stevanovic but broke again to love in the sixth game, which proved decisive.
Both players were vulnerable on serve in the second set and were locked at 4-4 after a fourth break.
World number 225 Stevanovic held to edge ahead 5-4 before rain swept across the courts, forcing a lengthy delay.
When they returned, Kvitova won 10 consecutive points but she strugged to close the deal against stubborn Stevanovic before finally sealing the victory on her fourth match point.
“I love playing on grass, for sure,” said Kvitova according to AFP. “When my serve is working I love it even more.
Meanwhile, Maia moved into the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career with an emphatic 6-2 6-2 victory over Sorana Cirstea, a minute before play was suspended due to rain.
Maia, who became the first Brazilian woman to reach the top 10 in the WTA rankings after her semi-final run at Roland Garros a month ago, shot out of the blocks on a cloudy morning to convert two early breaks and take a 3-0 lead.
Cirstea could be heard urging herself to “Fight, fight, fight,” and although she fought back with a break of her own, Haddad Maia attacked the Romanian’s weaker second serve to break once again and serve out the opening set.
Unable to match the power of the taller Maia on long rallies, a frustrated Cirstea had animated conversations with her coach between games as she sought answers but found few solutions as the Brazilian went 4-0 up in the second set.
Backed into a corner, the 33-year-old Romanian finally got on the board in the second set when she induced a rare unforced error off Haddad Maia’s forehand before serving to stay in the match.
But that only delayed the inevitable as Maia ground Cirstea down in her final service game and clinched victory on her first match point.
And just in time as the rain came down, the players scrambled off, and the covers came on under grey London skies.
Elsewhere, Medvedev has been making up for lost time as he downed Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 to match his best ever showing at Wimbledon by reaching the fourth round, Reuters reported.
When the 67th-ranked Fucsovics gave Medvedev the runaround in the opening set, with the Russian misfiring his returns time and again, visions of his 2020 Roland Garros first round win over the third seed must have flashed through his mind.
But Medvedev trampled on those dreams in the fourth game of the second set, when he broke Fucsovics to love after the Hungarian double-faulted to surrender his serve.
Playing under a closed Court One roof as the rain came down on a leafy southwest London, both players entertained the crowd with some acrobatic shot-making.
Fucsovics would have made Boris Becker proud with a couple of his diving volley winners and slam-dunk smashes, while Medvedev hit a stupendous crosscourt winner on the run after chasing down a drop shot from well behind the baseline.
Once Medvedev had taken a two-sets-to-one lead by banging down an unreturnable serve, Fucsovics needed an injury time out to get his right ankle manipulated and strapped up by the trainer.
He got back on his feet and even earned a break point in the eighth game of the fourth set. But once he missed his chance to make it 4-4, his game quickly unravelled and Medvedev reached the last 16 of a major for the first time this year by firing down an unreturnable serve.