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Nadal ends 7-year wait to return to Wimbledon quarter-finals

He secured a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Rafael Nadal celebrates (file pic).
Rafael Nadal celebrates (file pic).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

DEFNDING CHAMPION ROGER Federer and Rafael Nadal closed in on a dream Wimbledon final as the sport’s two greatest players swept into the last-eight on Monday.

Eight-time champion Federer needed just 16 minutes to win the opening set on his way to a 6-0, 7-5, 6-4 defeat of France’s Adrian Mannarino to reach his 16th All England Club quarter-final.

World number one Nadal, the two-time champion, reached his first quarter-final at Wimbledon since 2011 — when he went on to finish runner-up — with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Federer will be playing in his 53rd Grand Slam last-eight when he tackles Kevin Anderson, the eighth-seeded South African.

Top seed Federer, 36, has now won 32 consecutive sets at Wimbledon, just two behind his record set from the third round in 2005 to his title triumph in 2006.

He has also held serve for 81 successive games at the tournament, a run stretching back the first set of his semi-final win against Tomas Berdych in 2017.

“It was crucial for him to stay in the match at the beginning of the second set and then it got tougher,” said 20-time major winner Federer.

“You always tend to play better against better players and I’m happy to be back in the second week of Wimbledon.”

Federer boasts a 4-0 career record against 2017 US Open runner-up Anderson, who reached the quarter-finals for the first time with a 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/2), 5-7, 7-6 (7/4) win over France’s Gael Monfils.

Anderson is the first South African man in the Wimbledon last-eight since Wayne Ferreira in 1994.

Nadal, like Federer yet to drop a set, routed world number 93 Vesely on the eve of the Czech player’s 25th birthday.

Monday’s win took Nadal, 32, into a 35th Grand Slam quarter-final.

“It was an important victory as since 2011 I have not been in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon. So it’s an important moment,” said Nadal, the 17-time Grand Slam champion who has made four successive quarter-finals at the majors for the first time in six years.

“He started to play better from the base line, I made a couple of mistakes in the service game I lost (at 3-4 in the third set) but I feel I came back straight away. That was key.”

Next up for Nadal is either Juan Martin del Potro, the fifth seeded Argentine, or unseeded Gilles Simon of France.

He has a 10-5 winning record against del Potro and 8-1 over Simon.

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Three-time champion Novak Djokovic, seeded a lowly 12 this year, can make his 10th Wimbledon quarter-final if he defeats unseeded Karen Khachanov, the world number 40 from Russia.

Wimbledon 2018 - Day Seven - The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Kei Nishikori in action on day seven of the Wimbledon Championships. Source: Steven Paston

The winner of that clash will take on Kei Nishikori, who overcame a right arm injury to reach his first Wimbledon quarter-final with a gritty 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (12/10), 6-1 win over Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis.

“It’s always like big war for me when I play Novak. I always enjoy playing against him. It’s always a big challenge,” said Nishikori, who has beaten the Serb just twice in 15 meetings.

The 28-year-old Nishikori is the first Japanese man to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon since Shuzo Matsuoka in 1995.

Nishikori needed lengthy treatment and a medical timeout on his arm injury in the first set and had to save two set points in the third.

Gulbis, ranked 130 and who came through qualifying, had shocked fourth seeded German Alexander Zverev in the third round.

But having played three successive five-set matches in the main draw to get this far, he ran out of steam.

American ninth seed John Isner also reached his first Wimbledon quarter-final with a 6-4, 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/4) win over Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Isner, 33, will be playing in his first quarter-final at the majors since the 2011 US Open when he faces former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic.

Raonic fired 37 aces and 74 winners to defeat Mackenzie McDonald of the United States and reach the quarter-finals for the fourth time.

The 27-year-old Canadian, runner-up to Andy Murray in 2016, triumphed 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2.

The 13th seed won all 20 of his service games.

© – AFP, 2018

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