Rafael Nadal's quest for a third grand slam title of the year continues to gather steam after the Spaniard stormed into the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a commanding straight sets win over Botic van de Zandschulp.
Nadal's chances of sealing a calendar Grand Slam grow bigger by the day after his 6-4 6-2 7-6 (8-6) win against van de Zandschulp in the fourth round.
The World No.4, already halfway to the holy grail of tennis with his wins at Melbourne Park and Roland Garros, powered past the Dutchman after an incredible display that featured what some are describing as the 'shot of the tournament'.
Having already gone two sets up, Nadal faced a sterner test against his Dutch opponent in the third set.
Van de Zandschulp fought tooth and nail to hold his own serve at a crucial juncture midway through the set, but the Dutchman had no answers to a piece of magic from Nadal.
The Dutchman must have thought he'd levelled the game at deuce when he left Nadal stretching to retrieve a volley on his own baseline.
However, van de Zandschulp and viewers were left in disbelief after Nadal showed extraordinary reflexes and ingenuity to flick a backhand winner past his hapless opponent.
The moment of genius from the 22-time grand slam champion left fans in awe on social media.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 4, 2022
POOOOOOOIIIIINT RAFA NADAL what a backhand passing winner for the break absolutely ridiculous #VamosRafa
— Dennis Ethan (@dens_Ethan) July 4, 2022
Actually laughing at that reflex Nadal winner.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) July 4, 2022
— SportsTalk (@rajeshworld) July 4, 2022
That backhand flick from Nadal to secure the break #Wimbeldon2022 that was so goatish from Nadal
— QQ ® (@CypressRozay) July 4, 2022
Nadal's retrieval skills have been insane all year. It helped him in Australia/Paris. At crucial points he is running all over the place, side to side getting difficult balls back, forcing his opponent to hit one extra ball or hitting a winner outright #Wimbledon #Wimbeldon2022
— QQ ® (@CypressRozay) July 4, 2022
Just tremendous to watch this. Point of the tournament so far.
— Mike 🇵🇷 🇺🇸 🚀 (@mike_h1990) July 4, 2022
Nadal's win moves him one step closer to a semi-final showdown with Nick Kyrgios, after the Aussie moved into the last-eight with a thrilling five-set victory over American rising star, Brandon Nakashima.
In the same half of the draw as Kyrgios, Nadal and his old Australian foe are now just a match each away from rekindling one of Wimbledon's most talked-about rivalries in what would be a blockbuster semi-final.
Rafa Nadal sets up quarter-final clash with Taylor Fritz
Not that Nadal will allow himself to think about that yet when he has 11th-seeded Taylor Fritz standing in his way in the last eight.
For as Nadal noted after his Centre Court triumph in two hours, 22 minutes on Monday, Fritz is having an amazing year.
"He won his first Masters final this year - against me (in Indian Wells)," smiled the two-time Wimbledon champ.
The 36-year-old Nadal had also beaten 21st seed van de Zandschulp on his way to the Roland Garros crown and there never looked much doubt about his progress apart from a late show of resistance from the Dutchman who saved three match points in the tiebreak.
There was never, however, going to be the same sort of race against the clock to beat the 11pm curfew that Novak Djokovic had won the night before, with Nadal taking care of business at the fourth attempt by 9.30pm.
He continues to win despite his attempts to disguise physical ailments.
When asked about his abdomen being strapped, Nadal was the model of politeness before he gently chided his questioner: "Sorry, but I'm a little bit tired of talking about my body."
Fritz had earlier roared past Australia's battling qualifier Jason Kubler, ending the Brisbane man's glorious six-win run with a comfortable straight-sets win, 6-3 6-1 6-4.
That extends his winning streak on grass to eight matches after his triumph in Eastbourne last month.
"It is crazy to go from where I was at maybe mentally after Queen's (Club), like feeling injured, I've just lost like three matches in a row, to now I'm in my first slam quarter-final," Fritz said.
"It's a big jump. It's so interesting. It's kind of like how tennis is. One, two good weeks, five or six good matches in a row, can kind of just change everything."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.