Ons Jabeur set up a quarter-final repeat of last year’s Wimbledon showpiece against Elena Rybakina after crushing out-of-sorts former champion Petra Kvitova 6-0 6-3 in a Centre Court demolition job yesterday.
Her crowd-pleasing variety of slice, drop shot and change of pace and angle left the 2011 and 2014 champion flailing from the start as the Tunisian raced through the first set in 22 minutes.
The ninth-seeded Czech had the briefest of recoveries in the second but it did not last and Jabeur marched on.
“Great, great match. I’m very happy with the performance, playing someone that maybe I don’t like to play a lot,” Jabeur said. “Hopefully I can keep it going.”
Sixth seed Jabeur had to come from a set down against Bianca Andreescu on Saturday but had no such problems on a blustery afternoon as she took command from the start.
Kvitova struggled to deal with the lack of pace coming her way, while her own serves were erratic.
The fans loved the flashback that the hugely popular Jabeur brings to the table, where deception and angle can overcome sheer power, but even they seemed stunned at the one-sided nature of the match.
Kvitova briefly returned to the locker room in an attempt to reset for the second set but her radar remained badly off and she was soon 4-1 down having conceded a double break.
The Czech did, finally, string two games together but her body language suggested that she never really believed she could change the course of the match and Jabeur finished in fitting style by breaking to love.
Third-seeded Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, who beat Jabeur in three sets in last year’s final, went through after Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia retired at 4-1 down in the first set with a back injury.
Meanwhile, defending champion Novak Djokovic was temporarily knocked off course by big-serving Pole Hubert Hurkacz but quickly got back in the groove to reach the quarter-finals.
Having edged two tight tiebreaks late on Sunday before being beaten by the tournament’s strict 11pm curfew, the 36-year-old returned hoping for a quick completion of the match.
Instead, he dropped his first set of the tournament before recalibrating and sealing a 7-6(6) 7-6(6) 5-7 6-4 victory.
His 100th match at Wimbledon was not vintage Djokovic but as he almost always does the second seed found a way through the storm to preserve his 10-year unbeaten record on Centre Court.
He has now moved equal in second place with Jimmy Connors for Wimbledon quarter-finals reached and will face Russia’s seventh seed Andrey Rublev in his 14th on Tuesday.
Remarkably the Serbian has now reached 56 Grand Slam quarters-finals, second behind only Roger Federer.
Later, top seed Carlos Alcaraz roared into the quarter-finals with a formidable display of firepower to down big-serving Italian dark horse Matteo Berrettini.
The Spaniard was beaten to the punch in the opening set but raised his game to claim a comfortable 3-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 win to the delight of the Centre Court crowd.
He will now face a battle of the 20-year-old’s against Denmark’s sixth seed Holger Rune for a place in the semi-finals.
Berrettini came out firing with his serve and forehand rocking Alcaraz but after an injury-plagued year he could not hope to maintain that intensity.
Alcaraz was relentless from then on, running former runner-up Berrettini ragged at times.
He broke serve in the third game of the second set on the way to levelling the match and did the same in the third set as he picked up speed.
A delay to close the roof midway through the fourth set as the light faded offered Berrettini some respite but Alcaraz quickly completed the win after the resumption.
Fearless Dane Holger Rune’s stature in world tennis continued to grow as he stayed calm and collected in the face of adversity to ride out a 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4) 6-3 fourth round win over Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov.
The Danish sixth seed missed out on converting any of the six break points he earned in the opening set, and then found himself a set and 4-2 down after surrendering his own serve with two successive double faults.