Roger Federer is surprising even himself with his latest record-setting run to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, while Rafael Nadal continues to roll towards the final in the other half of the draw.
Like a vintage Rolls Royce, Federer cruised into the last eight for a mind-boggling 16th time with another imperious centre-court display at The All England Club.
Federer took his tally of consecutive sets won on London’s hallowed lawns to 32 with a 6-0 7-5 6-4 dispatch of dangerous French left-hander Adrian Mannarino.
He swept through the opening set in just 16 minutes, dropping just five points, before shifting down a gear to conserve petrol for his second-week drive to hopefully a ninth title.
“I didn’t miss much so I was very happy with the match,” Federer said after booking a last-eight date with South African Kevin Anderson.
“I’m very pleased to be back in the second week.”
One more straight-sets win would have Federer eclipsing his previous longest streak at the All England Club, when he won 34 sets in a row between the third round in 2005 and the 2006 final.
“I feel like these streaks just happen. You can’t plan for them anyway,” he said.
Three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe said it was a “privilege” to still be able to see the Swiss marvel strut his stuff on tennis’s most famous centre court and, a month shy of his 37th birthday, Federer said he could barely believe it either.
When he lost lost his 2016 semi-final to Milos Raonic, Federer feared his career may be over after seriously injuring his knee in an on-court tumble.
But in a simply stunning two years since, the grand master has lost just seven of 88 matches and taken his record title haul to a magical 20 slams.
And all on a surgically-repaired knee.
“I told my team the other day that for me also, after all these years, it is surprising to be the No.1 seed, in the top-two rankings at 36,” he said.
“I didn’t think that was ever going to happen, to be honest.”
Federer plays Anderson on Wednesday after the eighth seed edged flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 7-6 (7-4) in one of the matches of the championship.
SPANISH NO.1 ROLLS THROUGH TO QUARTERS
When Nadal won later in the day to join Federer in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, raising hopes of another titanic title decider a decade after the duo’s so-called match of the century.
The top-ranked Nadal bludgeoned 37 winners to take down unseeded Czech Jiri Vesely 6-3 6-3 6-4 and reach the last eight for the first time in seven years.
“The overall goal is try to win the tournament,” the great Spaniard said.
“Of course, it is important for me to be in these quarter-finals. Is true has been a while since I have been in that position.
“At the same time, I have been in that position a couple of times in my career.
“We are not talking about already that I played a final or I won the tournament. We are talking about I am in quarter-finals. That, of course, is a positive result.
“When I arrive here, my goal is to do the things the right way, to try to give me chances to compete well. Sometimes the things works better, sometimes worse.”
The world No.1 and reigning French Open champion also extended his grand slam streak to 11 matches to book an appointment on Wednesday with either Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro or veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Del Potro was leading Simon two sets to one – 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 – when their fourth-round match was suspended under fading light.
Nadal denied Federer 9-7 in the final set of their epic Wimbledon final 10 years ago and the two living legends – who have shared the past six grand slam trophies in an extraordinary renaissance – are now only two wins each from another dream meeting on the sport’s greatest stage.
“If he’s in the final, I am excited to play Roger,” Nadal said.
“It will be a good result for me. Facing Roger again will be something fantastic.”
They were joined in the last eight for the first time by big-serving John Isner, who continues to prosper in London’s scorching conditions.
Isner added another 22 aces to his tournament-topping tally that now stands at 135 after the ninth seed’s 6-4 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-5) triumph over young Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Isner is the last American man standing after his next opponent, 2016 finalist Milos Raonic, ended Mackenzie McDonald’s breakout grand-slam performance with a 6-3 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 fourth-round victory.
Kei Nishikori – Nick Kyrgios’s third-round vanquisher – also marched through, the Japanese superstar stopping fatiguing Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) 6-1.
Novak Djokovic is Nishikori’s next challenge after the three-time champion thumped Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 6-2 in an ominous display.