| Maria Sharapova of Russia blows kisses to the gallery after her win over Jelena Dokic Saturday. (AFP)
London, June 28 (Reuters): Russia’s youngsters took the women’s singles at Wimbledon by storm on Saturday with four reaching the last 16, led by Maria Sharapova.
The graceful 16-year-old, a girls’ singles finalist here last year, has taken the place of Anna Kournikova in the crowd’s affections and she showed scant regard for reputations as she out-hit and out-thought 11th seed Jelena Dokic 6-4, 6-4.
Sharapova will now meet another of the Russian brigade, Svetlana Kuznetsova, for a place in the quarter finals.
Kuznetsova, 18 and on her first visit to the Wimbledon grass courts, beat Emilie Loit of France 6-1, 6-2.
Also through to the fourth round was Anastasia Myskina, 21, who beat former champion Conchita Martinez 6-3, 6-3.
Elena Dementieva, 21 and seeded 15, stormed past Hungarian qualifier Aniko Kapros 6-3, 6-1 to set up a fourth-round match with defending champion Serena Williams.
On Friday Vera Zvonareva also reached the last 16 where she will meet Venus Williams.
Meanwhile, defending champion Serena Williams ousted Laura Granville 6-3, 6-1, but not before her fellow-American had put up a game fight.
French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne also made Round 4 beating Aussie Alicia Mloik 6-4, 6-4. Jennifer Capriati also won 6-4, 6-4 — against Japan’s Akiko Morigami.
In men’s play, Mark Philippoussis battled past Czech Radek Stepanek 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6.
He meets second seed and former champion Andre Agassi of the US, who had a 5-7, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 win over Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui.
French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Armenian Sargis Sargsian 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach the last 16.
Tim Henman carried British hopes outclassing Swedish qualifier Robin Soderling 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth round.
Eleventh seed Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic was knocked out by unseeded German Alexander Popp 3-6, 4-6, 6-7. Popp now plays Olivier Rochus in the last 16, a 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 winner over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.
Paes, Bhupathi in last 16
Leander Paes and David Rikl entered the doubles pre-quarter finals Saturday with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Germans Nicolas Kiefer-David Prinosil. The fifth-seeded Indo-Czech pair led by two sets when bad light stopped play Friday. Paes-Rikl will meet Giovanni and Nicolas Lapentti.
Top seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi also made the last 16, getting a walkover from Stepanek and Novak. Bhupathi and Mirnyi face Argentines Gaston Etlis and Martin Rodriguez.
Bhupathi later teamed up with Argentina’s Paola Suarez in the mixed doubles event to beat British pair Arvind Parmar and Anne Keothavong 6-2, 6-1 in a first round match.
Sania Mirza, the 16th seed, advanced to the second round of girls’ singles with a 6-1, 6-1 rout of Ukrainian Alyona Tsutaskova.