World No.1 Ash Barty and seven-times champion Serena Williams remain on a Wimbledon collision course after both women made it through to the last 16 on Saturday.
Barty made her Centre Court singles debut with a 6-1 6-1 rout of British wildcard Harriet Dart, and next faces American Alison Riske on Monday.
Over on No.1 Court, Williams moved into the fourth round at the All England Club for the 16th time with a 6-3 6-4 third-round win over Julia Goerges, setting up a meeting with Spanish veteran Carla Suarez Navarro.
And the American later lavished Barty with praise as the two heavyweight contenders hurtle towards a blockbuster quarterfinal.
The pair first met when the Australian was a teenager at her home Slam in 2014.
“I’ve always from the day I played her in Australia had a tremendous amount of respect for her game,” Williams said.
Next up: Johanna Konta or Sloane Stephens
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 6, 2019
“I just thought she’s just a beautiful player. She has great technique. I love that.
“I’m really a technical player. I like when people have a beautiful game and they do the right techniques. It’s so right up my alley.
“I’ve seen her play a lot recently, too. Like I always say, she’s just someone in the locker room that you just always root for.
“But in general I have been watching her game because I know that she’s a force to be reckoned with. So I’ve been watching a lot.”
With Barty having not dropped a set in her past 10 matches, a duel with Williams appears inevitable, but the Aussie was not taking anything for granted ahead of her fourth-round match against in-form Riske.
“I will give the athlete’s answer and say: I’m just going to worry about Alison first,” the French Open champion said when asked about the prospect of facing Williams.
Riske upset Swiss world No.13 Belinda Bencic 4-6 6-4 6-4 to ensure Barty’s seed-free path to at least the last eight.
Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova is a potential semifinal opponent for Barty or Williams after marching on with a 6-3 6-2 dispatch of Poland’s Magda Linette.
Like Barty, sixth-seeded Kvitova, champion in 2011 and 2014, has yet to drop a set.
She had not played a match since pulling out of the French Open in May with an arm injury, and is not really practising or stressing about her progress.
“Every match gets better,” said Kvitova.
“Matches are the best practice. Now my mind, it’s more focusing on the arm than maybe on the tennis.
“I’m pretty confident, I have a day off tomorrow. Of course, as I mentioned already many times before, the pain can come in the forearm and I have to retire.”
The Czech will play resurgent world No.18 Johanna Konta after Britain’s last hope eliminated American ninth seed Sloane Stephens 3-6 6-4 6-1.
The other fourth-round battle in the top half of the draw features Belgian Elise Mertens, the 21st seed, against Czech Barbora Strycova.
Mertens progressed with a 6-2 6-7(9) 6-4 victory over China’s Wang Qiang, while Strycova bounced out world No.4 Kiki Bertens 7-5 6-1.
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