Second seed Rafael Nadal took another step forward in his bid for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam on Monday 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 U.S. Open triumph would see the Mallorcan claim the calendar slam -- a feat last achieved in 1969 by Australian great Rod Laver.
He will face American 11th seed Taylor Fritz for a place in Friday's semi-finals.
"To be in the quarter-finals here at Wimbledon after three years without playing here, it's amazing for me," said Nadal. "So very, very happy."
Playing his first tournament on grass since 2019, the Spaniard has shown little difficulty adjusting to the surface and dominated proceedings from start to finish in his fourth round outing.
Nadal came into Monday's clash having won the pair's only previous meeting in the third round of this year's Roland Garros in straight sets on his way to a 14th French Open title.
Facing Van de Zandschulp a day after top seed and reigning champion Novak Djokovic beat another Dutchman in Tim van Rijthoven, Nadal had two break point chances in his opponent's first service game but could not make them count.
With the Dutchman serving to stay in the opening set at 4-5, Nadal forced an error from the 26-year-old's backhand with a vicious angled forehand for the crucial break.
After saving the first break point on his serve in the opening game of the second set, Nadal breached Van de Zandschulp's delivery in the next to take the lead early with two consecutive errors from the Dutchman.
A double fault in the eighth game from Van de Zandschulp gifted Nadal a double break and with it the second set.
A wild forehand saw Nadal suffer his first break at the start of the third. But the joy for the Dutchman and the crowd's hopes of an extended contest were short-lived as the left-hander immediately broke back.
An incredible backhand pass on the stretch brought up a break of serve for Nadal in the sixth game and the delighted Spaniard celebrated with a number of fist pumps.
Serving for the match at 5-3 the 36-year-old Spaniard got broken again as Van de Zandschulp forced a tiebreak.
But Nadal found the edge, earning a crucial mini break by winning a 30-shot rally -- the longest in the match -- that got the crowd on their feet.
Latest on Sportstar
- Sanjivani Jadhav finishes second in women’s 10,000m at Portland Track Festival
- WTC Final 2023: Cameron Green hopes to bring in Rohit Sharma’s calmness in title clash
- McIlroy tied for lead at Memorial by making fewest mistakes
- Jabeur upset with fans reselling tickets due to women’s match in night session
- Nkunku stars as Leipzig retains German Cup with 2-0 win over Frankfurt