Wimbledon will showcase all the big four of the men’s game in the second week for the first time in three years after Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray reached the last 16.
It was in 2011 that the undisputed superpowers last all made it to the business end of the tournament and the chances are that they will extend their domination of the season’s third grand slam event.
Lleyton Hewitt was the last man other than them to lift the trophy back in 2002. Since then, Federer has won seven and Nadal two with Djokovic and Murray taking one apiece.
On Monday, they are in fourth-round action with top seed Djokovic, the 2011 champion and runner-up to Murray 12 months ago, taking on flamboyant Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a semi-finalist in 2011 and 2012.
Djokovic has a 12-5 winning record over Tsonga, including the 2011 last-four at Wimbledon as well as the quarter-finals of the 2012 Olympics which were also played at the All England Club.
Tsonga’s last win over the Serb was four years ago in Australia.
“I don’t fear anything. I expect him to serve well. I think that’s his advantage,” said Djokovic, the winner of six majors.
“Coming to the net, he’s a very aggressive player. If he’s on, if he feels good on a certain day, he can beat anybody.”
Tsonga has had a gruelling path to the fourth round, playing every day from Monday to Friday to negotiate his three rounds, and enduring two five-setters in his first two matches.
Nadal, the world No.1 and champion in 2008 and 2010, has already overcome a psychological barrier by making the second week for the first time since 2011.
He has dropped the first set in all three rounds so far and tackles 19-year-old Australian wildcard Nick Kyrgios, the world No.144, for a place in the quarter-finals.
“Young players are very dangerous as always they have something special. They are able to play with no pressure. They are fresh,” said Nadal.
Federer, who won the last of his seven Wimbledon titles in 2012, tackles Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo, who has made the fourth round for the first time at the 13th attempt.
Federer has won 10 of his 11 meetings against his fellow 32-year-old.
However, Robredo triumphed when they last met at the US Open fourth round in 2013, in what was Federer’s earliest exit in New York for a decade.
Murray has reached the last 16 for the seventh year in succession and has dropped just 19 games in three rounds, comfortably a personal best in his tournament history.
The third-seeded Murray plays Kevin Anderson, the first South African to make the fourth round for 14 years.
“He’s a big guy with a big game. He’s played some very good tennis this year. Probably been his best year on the tour so far in terms of consistency. It will be tough,” said Murray who has a 1-1 record against Anderson.
Murray won in straight sets in the first round of the 2010 Australian Open before Anderson hit back with a win at the 2011 Montreal Masters.
In other last-16 clashes on Monday, France’s Jeremy Chardy plays Croatian 26th seed Marin Cilic, who is coached by 2001 champion Goran Ivanisevic.
Bulgarian 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov faces Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer.
Milos Raonic is just the second Canadian man in the fourth round in the open era but he must wait to discover his opponent as lucky loser Simone Bolelli and Japanese 10th seed Kei Nishikori have yet to finish their third-round match.
In other delayed third-round encounters, held over due to Saturday’s rain, Australian Open champion and fifth seed Stan Wawrinka faces Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan while Feliciano Lopez, the Spanish 19th seed, faces ninth-seeded American John Isner of the United States.