LONDON: Second seed Rafael Nadal took another step forward in his bid for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam yesterday by booking his spot in the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a commanding 6-4 6-2 7-6(6) win against Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp.
The All England Club, where the Spaniard has won two of his 22 majors, has been the least rewarding place for Nadal but he arrived this year having won the Australian and French Open titles back-to-back for the first time in his career.
A third Wimbledon title and first since 2010 on the manicured lawns and a US Open triumph would see the Mallorcan claim the calendar slam – a feat last achieved in 1969 by Australian great Rod Laver.
Former champion Simona Halep marked her return to Centre Court with a scintillating performance to thrash fourth-seeded Spaniard Paula Badosa 6-1 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals. Halep smashed 17 winners, kept a tab on her errors and broke Badosa’s serve five times to close out the victory in an hour.
Meanwhile, an angelic Nick Kyrgios reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final for seven years when he recovered from a slow start to beat steady American Brandon Nakashima in five sets on Centre Court.
With Kyrgios’s bad-tempered Court One victory over fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas still the talk of the town, the Australian was on his best behaviour in front of the Royal Box as he ground out a 4-6 6-4 7-6(2) 3-6 6-2 win. Unseeded Chilean Cristian Garin awaits in the last eight, offering Kyrgios a golden opportunity to surpass his quarter-final run at Wimbledon on his debut in 2014.
Garin showed amazing tenacity to come from two sets and 3-0 down and save two match points as he beat Australian Alex de Minaur to reach his first grand slam quarter-final. Garin eventually triumphed 2-6 5-7 7-6 (3) 6-4 7-6(6) after four hours 34 minutes.
American 11th seed Taylor Fritz comfortably defeated Australia’s Jason Kubler 6-3 6-1 6-4 to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Harmony Tan’s fairytale Wimbledon debut came to an end when the Frenchwoman was beaten 6-2 6-3 by 20-year-old American Amanda Anisimova in the fourth round.
Kazakh 17th seed Elena Rybakina hit twice as many winners as unseeded opponent Petra Martic of Croatia to progress to her maiden Wimbledon quarter-final with a 7-5 6-3 victory. Ajla Tomljanovic became the first Australian woman in more than two decades to reach back-to-back Wimbledon quarter-finals when she wore down Alize Cornet in an electrifying 4-6 6-4 6-3 contest.