- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2011

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - After winning six titles at the All England Club, Roger Federer experienced a new feeling on Centre Court.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion was forced indoors on another rainy day at Wimbledon, and he emerged victorious as usual, beating Adrian Mannarino of France 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 Thursday to reach the third round.

“I think it was nice,” Federer said of playing under the roof. “Honestly, from start to finish it felt the same, even though outside it was getting darker from the light perspective. And then from the movement, it felt like it was outdoors.”

The retractable roof, which was installed before the 2009 tournament, has been rarely used until this week. But it’s already been shut for at least parts of three of the four days this year.

Fifth-seeded Robin Soderling also won on Centre Court, surviving a five-setter against 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt, while French Open champion Li Na was eliminated by German wild card Sabine Lisicki. On other courts, four-time champion Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic advanced.

On Friday, defending champion Rafael Nadal is scheduled to play on Court 1 along with five-time titlist Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. On Centre Court, Andy Murray is to face Ivan Ljubicic in the late match.

Federer ended up playing his match a little later than expected because the two earlier matches both went the distance. And with his parents watching from the Royal Box, Federer finished off Mannarino with a high-flying overhead smash.

Only minutes after he walked off grass, Federer was already praising the conditions and the crowd.

“The atmosphere was fantastic because they already saw some heavy matches beforehand so I didn’t know how much stamina they had, but once again they showed what great fans they are, that’s why I love playing here,” Federer said. “It’s obviously very nice for me to have such a standing ovation every time.”

Up next for Federer will be a familiar opponent, 2002 runner-up David Nalbandian. The pair first met in the final of the junior tournament at the U.S. Open in 1998, with the Argentine winning in straight sets.

“We’ve come a long way from playing the first time,” Federer said.

Nalbandian won the first five matches between the two as full-fledged professionals, but Federer now leads the head-to-head series 10-8.

The biggest surprise of the young tournament came only a short time before Federer played when Li was eliminated by Lisicki, a German ranked 62nd. The only Chinese player ever to win a major title wasted two match points before losing 3-6, 6-4, 8-6.

“Nothing wrong,” Li said when recounting her match. “Just unlucky.”

Lisicki saved both match points she faced with service winners. When she finally won the match, she dropped to her knees to celebrate.

“My emotions are so, I mean, just over the moon,” said Lisicki, who had 17 aces and 32 winners. “It’s just amazing.”

In the early match, two-time French Open runner-up Soderling came from two sets down to beat Hewitt 6-7 (5), 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

“He’s a great fighter,” the 26-year-old Swede said. “And I think, at least in my opinion, he plays really well now, better than he has in a while, so I think, at least I hope, he’s going to be around for a while.”

Serena again struggled early, but eventually held on to beat Simona Halep 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

After the match, the 13-time Grand Slam champion complained about being put on Court 2 instead of playing in one of the bigger stadiums on the grounds. Venus, a five-time champion, played on Court 2 in the first round.

“They like to put us on Court 2, me and Venus, for whatever reason,” said Serena, who owns four Wimbledon titles. “I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe one day we’ll figure it out. I don’t know.”

Told of Serena’s comments, tournament spokesman Johnny Perkins said there was no intentional snub, noting that several factors go into scheduling decisions, including TV broadcasting considerations, where players stand in the draw, and what ticket-buyers want to see.

“I don’t think it’s anything deliberate, clearly,” Perkins said. “It’s a hugely complex jigsaw puzzle. Everyone probably looks at it from their own point of view, so she’s obviously quite entitled to.”

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