Nadal leads charge of old brigade into Wimbledon quarterfinals

LONDON, UK – Rafael Nadal reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the seventh time on Monday, July 8, as the evergreen 30-somethings of male tennis stars threatened to take a stranglehold at the All England Club.

Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion, swept to an easy 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win over outclassed Joao Sousa of Portugal.

He will next play either Sam Querrey or Tennys Sandgren in what will be his 39th appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The 33-year-old Spaniard is chasing his 19th title at the majors, which would put him just one behind the all-time record of 20 held by Roger Federer – his potential opponent in the semifinals.

"It was a good, solid match. It's true that the serve probably didn't work as good as two days ago," said Nadal, who had been equally ruthless in the third round against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga when he lost just 7 games.

"A lot of positive things out there. To be back in the quarterfinals is great news for me." 

"Happy to be where I am and the body is holding well, playing some good – and straight sets helps."

Also joining Nadal in the last eight was his compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut, who reached his first Wimbledon quarterfinal and second at the majors this year when he defeated Benoit Paire of France, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.

The 31-year-old world No. 22 will face either 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic of Canada or Guido Pella of Argentina for a place in the semifinals.

Federer in 17th fourth round 

Bautista Agut, who has now defeated Paire 7 times in 7 meetings, also made the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January.

With Nadal and Bautista Agut safely through, the Wimbledon quarterfinals were turning into an old boys' club.

Later Monday, eight-time winner Roger Federer, 37, and world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic, 33, can also make the last eight.

Should Sam Querrey, Fernando Verdasco, and Mikhail Kukushkin also win, then 7 of the 8 quarterfinalists on Wednesday will all be aged over 30.

For the first time, the last 16 lineup featured more players over 30 than under for the first time in the modern era.

Federer tackles Italian world No. 20 Matteo Berrettini in what will be his record 17th fourth round appearance at the All England Club.

Djokovic, meanwhile, insists he will not be complacent about his chances of reaching the final for the sixth time.

The highest seed that the world No. 1 can face before the final is number 15 Raonic.

But first up for the defending champion and 16-time major winner is 21-year-old Ugo Humbert of France, who is playing in his first Wimbledon.

"There were a lot of top seeds that went out in early rounds in Wimbledon," said Djokovic.

"That's why these kind of tournaments are regarded as the most important events where you always come out with your best game."

Until this year, world No. 66 Humbert had never played a match on grass either as a junior or a professional.

Should Djokovic emerge triumphant, he would face either Belgian 21st seed David Goffin or Spanish veteran Verdasco in what would be his 11th quarterfinal in the tournament.

Raonic, beaten by Andy Murray in the 2016 final, has made the quarterfinals in the last two years.

He tackles 26th seed Guido Pella, who has reached the last 16 at a Slam for the first time in 20 attempts.

The other ties see 2017 semifinalist Querrey face last 16 debutant and US compatriot Tennys Sandgren.

Japanese Kei Nishikori, a quarterfinalist in 2018, takes on Kukushkin.

Nishikori recorded his 400th tour victory when he beat Steve Johnson in the third round on Saturday. – Rappler.com