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Federer, Nadal inch closer to final clash

LONDON (AFP) – Defending 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 quarterfinal.

World No. 1 Nadal, the two-time champion, reached his first quarterfinal 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.

Federer boasts a 4-0 career record against 2017 US Open runner-up Anderson, who reached the quarterfinals 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.

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

Del Potro was leading 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/5), 5-7 when his tie with Simon was halted for the night due to darkness.

Novak Djokovic reached the quarterfinals for the 10th time with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

“He’s got weapons, a big serve and a big forehand,’’ said Djokovic of the world number 40.

Three-time champion Djokovic, seeded 12, will next face Japan’s 24th seed Kei Nishikori.

It will be Djokovic’s 41st appearance in a Grand Slam quarter-final and he will start favourite against Nishikori who will be in his first last-eight at the All England Club.

Former world number one Djokovic has a 13-2 winning record against the Japanese player.

Nishikori 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.

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