LONDON - Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz remained on collision course at Wimbledon with fourth-round victories on Monday while Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur set up a repeat of last year's final.
Defending champion Djokovic conceded his first set of the tournament as he was briefly thrown off balance by Poland's Hubert Hurkacz on the resumption of their contest.
The 36-year-old, who led by two sets when Wimbledon's curfew halted his progress on Sunday, quickly recovered to claim a 7-6(6) 7-6(6) 5-7 6-4 victory in his 100th match at the tournament.
World number one and top seed Alcaraz also dropped a set but hit back in sensational fashion to beat Italian former runner-up Matteo Berrettini 3-6 6-3 6-3 6-3.
Alcaraz will face fellow 20-year-old Holger Rune on Wednesday in what will be the youngest Wimbledon men's quarter-final in the professional era while seven-time champion Djokovic is back in action on Tuesday in his 56th Grand Slam quarter final, against Russian seventh seed Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic, bidding for a fifth successive title, took his winning streak at Wimbledon to 32 matches and is now unbeaten on Centre Court for a decade.
But the Serb said he had not enjoyed facing Hurkacz whose thunderous serves left the world's best returner powerless at times, at one point even knocking him to the floor.
"He put up a great performance," said a relieved Djokovic, who withstood a barrage of 33 aces from Hurkacz.
"I don't recall the last time I felt this miserable on returning games to be honest, because of his incredibly accurate and powerful serve."
Alcaraz came through a significant test against 2021 runner-up Berrettini with flying colours. Italian Berrettini's serve and sledgehammer forehand briefly stopped the Spaniard in his tracks but Alcaraz took charge.
"I'm hungry for more," Alcaraz said. "It's something I really wanted. I came in this year with that goal -- get into the quarter-final, I'm wanting more," he said.
Sixth seed Rune is rivalling Alcaraz in the popularity stakes and he gained more fans as he battled back to eclipse 21st seed Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian who was once regarded as a future Grand Slam champion.
Flair player Rune won 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4) 6-3 to become the first Dane in 65 years to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Third seed Daniil Medvedev maintained his steady progress, reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time after ailing Czech Jiri Lehecka pulled up with a right foot injury while trailing 6-4 6-2.
Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas's hopes of becoming the first Greek man to reach the quarter-finals were wrecked by American outsider Christopher Eubanks who continued his fairytale debut at the grasscourt slam with a 3-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-4 6-4 win.
Rybakina enjoyed an easier route into the quarter-finals after her Brazilian opponent Beatriz Haddad Maia retired with a back injury while trailing the third seed 4-1 in the first set.
"It's never easy to finish a match like this and I hope it's nothing really serious," said Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, who will next take on Jabeur who she beat in last year's final.
"It was really unlucky for Beatriz and I hope she gets better," added Rybakina.
Tunisian sixth seed Jabeur crushed out-of-sorts former champion Petra Kvitova 6-0 6-3 in a Centre Court demolition job.
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus continued her march towards a second Grand Slam title of 2023, as the Australian Open champion beat Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 6-0.
Both players were absent from the tournament last year after Wimbledon decided to ban competitors from Russia and its ally Belarus due to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a "special military operation".
"I'm really enjoying being here," Sabalenka said.
"I'm super happy to be back and I'm really enjoying every second on court... I just want to stay as long as I can so I can enjoy the atmosphere."
It was the end of the road for another Russian in 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, who fell 3-6 7-6(4) 6-2 to American Madison Keys after being handed a point penalty late in the decider after appearing to throw her racket to the ground.
Keys, seeded 25th, will meet Sabalenka in the quarter-finals.
Arguably the story of the tournament so far is Eubanks, the 27-year-old world number 43 who had won only two Grand Slam matches before this Wimbledon and who is a part-time commentator for the Tennis Channel.
He blazed 53 winners against a weary Tsitsipas who has played every day of the tournament apart from Monday.
"I feel like I'm living a dream right now, this is absolutely insane," said Eubanks, who meets Medvedev next.
"It's surreal, it's unbelievable."