Number one seed Andy Murray came through a four-set thriller to reach the quarterfinal but criticized the state of the Wimbledon turf. A potential semifinal against Rafael Nadal looms for the Scot.
Men's top seeds Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are through to the fourth round of Wimbledon.
The British number one had to come through a significantly tougher match on Center Court against Fabio Fognini of Italy, bemoaning a lack of rhythm, a niggling hip problem and the state of the grass.
Murray, 30, started well against 28th seeded Fognini, winning the first set 6-2, but the Italian fought back to take the second set. Murray admitted that Fognini's baseline game caused him problems, after beating two players in Alexander Bublik and Dustin Brown who played more drop shots.
The Scot looked to have finally found his rhythm when he won the third set 6-1 but the stubborn Fognini broke in the fourth set, ensuring a thrilling finish as the light faded. Murray said he was "relieved" to have made it through and hinted that a troublesome hip problem was still bothering him.
Criticism of Wimbledon courts
Murray also added his name to a growing list of competitors who have voiced dissatisfaction at the condition of Wimbledon's grass courts - going so far as to say that there were even "divots" on Center Court.
"I don't think the court is in as good a condition as previous years," he said. "There are a few spots on the court, like just behind the baseline and just in front of the baseline, where there are big lumps of grass, sort of like little divots there, which I don't remember really being the case."
Earlier on Friday, tournament officials had responded to concerns over the state of the courts. "The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years," the All England Club said in a statement. "Grass is a natural surface and it is usual for the baselines to start to be showing signs of wear and tear four days into the championships."
Nadal through, Nishikori out
Elsewhere in the men's draw, two-time Wimbledon champion and reigning French Open champion Nadal had no problems against Karen Khachanov, dispatching the Russian 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 in just over two hours. The Spaniard has now won ten Grand Slam matches in a row without dropping a set.
Kei Nishikori of Japan suffered more heartache on grass, losing 6-4, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 to the eighteenth seed, Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. He has only reached the last-16 at the All England Club twice in his career, making Wimbledon his worst Slam. Meanwhile, seventh seed Marin Cilic saw off American Steve Johnson in straight sets
New mum Azarenka through
In the women's draw, new mom Victoria Azarenka came through a three-set thriller on Centre Court, beating Britain's Heather Watson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. The former world number one took a pregnancy hiatus last year and gave birth to her first child in December before returning to the tour last month.
The Belarusian isn't back to her best yet and Watson proved a tough opponent, taking the first set 6-3 to the delight of the home crowd. The second set was closer than the 6-1 scoreline suggests before Azarenka was forced to break twice in the third to wrap up the tie and progress to the fourth round.
After her astonishing third-set comeback in round two, Germany's Carina Witthoeft finally bowed out, losing 6-1, 7-5 to Elina Svitolina, the Ukrainian fourth seed. Elsewhere, Britain's Johanna Konta progressed to the fourth round with a straight sets win over Maria Sakkari and Simona Halep, the recent French Open finalist, beat Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6.
There was a generation battle on Court One as 37-year-old Venus Williams, the five-time champion, beat 17-year-old Naomi Osaka in straight sets. The Japanese teenager wasn't even born when Williams made her Wimbledon debut 20 years ago.