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Federer holds all the aces as he downs Muller

By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - If Roger Federer believes in omens, he is guaranteed to walk off with an eighth Wimbledon trophy on July 6.

Never mind that the Swiss only reached round three on Thursday - or that possible duels with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray await - but the fact he beat Luxembourg's Gilles Muller was enough to convince some that the Wimbledon Gods were once again smiling on him.

Why the conviction? Because every time Federer has met Muller in a tournament, he has gone on to claim the title.

"Oh, really? Are you sure?" exclaimed Federer on hearing the news from reporters. "I'm speechless ... I'm happy to hear that."

That aside, what Federer was more pleased about was sparing his parents another dose of nail-biting drama - a year after suffering a shock second-round defeat.

Royal Box guests Lynette and Robbie Federer patiently sat through Nadal's nerve-shredding win over Czech Lukas Rosol before applauding Briton Heather Watson as she produced a gutsy display before going down in three sets to Germany's Angelique Kerber.

Almost five and a half hours after taking their seats did they finally get a glimpse of their son who is lauded the world over.

Federer then provided another reminder of how he amassed a record 17 grand slam titles.

DARK CLOUDS

Featuring in a match that started under angry dark clouds, was at times played through light drizzle and finished under a closed Centre Court roof, the sharp-shooting Swiss fired down 25 thunderbolt aces to flatten Muller 6-3 7-5 6-3.

Federer was greeted by a large red banner reading 'King of Court' and he made sure he lived up to the proclamation as he dropped only nine points on serve during a 94-minute demolition job where rallies were in short supply.

"It was a serving contest out there and I am happy I made it because the second set was tough with the rain delay," said the fourth seed who next faces Spaniard Marcel Granollers or Santiago Giraldo of Colombia. "It's nice to make aces, good for the confidence but ... I have got to keep working hard to keep the consistency."

For Federer fans, the only moment of panic came early in the third set when he took a tumble chasing a Muller crosscourt winner.

But within a flash he was back on his feet running around in his signature shoes - stamped with a gold Challenge Cup and the number seven on the right heel.

"I didn't think I was going to go down, it is slippery going forward, that's where the grass is still green but I am happy that I am ok," grinned Federer.

He will be even happier if he can swap those shoes for a pair engraved with '8' after the final on July 6.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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