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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Muller knocks out Nadal; Federer and Murray sail through

PHOTOS: Muller knocks out Nadal; Federer and Murray sail through

Last updated on: July 11, 2017 01:20 IST

Gilles Muller

IMAGE: Gilles Muller celebrates winning his fourth round match against Rafael Nadal. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

French Open champion Rafael Nadal's challenge for a third Wimbledon title was ended by Luxembourg's Gilles Muller as the Spaniard succumbed 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 15-13 in a heart-pounding fourth-round classic on Monday.

The 31-year-old Nadal fought back from two sets down and saved four match points in a 135-minute minute fifth set in which he successfully served to stay alive nine times.

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal reacts during his fourth round match. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

At the 10th time of asking, however, and with thousands of transfixed fans watching the drama unfold on the screen on the hill and on the edge of their seats on Court One, Nadal buckled under the relentless pressure exerted by an inspired Muller.

A miss-hit forehand gave Muller two more match points and this time he finished the job as a weary Nadal went long.

Sixteenth seed Muller, who served 30 aces and hit 95 winners, will play Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.

Federer sails on

Roger Federer

IMAGE: Roger Federer acknowledges the crowd as he celebrates victory. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Evergreen Roger Federer kept his quest for a record eighth Wimbledon crown on track on Monday, dispatching Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in a match-up of classic styles that had the purists purring.

The Bulgarian 13th seed, nicknamed "Baby Fed" when he was a junior on the basis of a single-handed backhand as silkily smooth as the Swiss master's, looked sharp in the early exchanges.

It was close to mirror-image tennis as the two men exchanged searing groundstrokes, gliding to the Centre Court net when they saw an opening to dispatch clinical volleys.

But the difference between the greatest ever player on grass and the man who has struggled for years to emerge from his shadow told on the big points.

Third seed Federer, who missed the clay court season to better prepare for his favourite tournament, took a decisive lead in the ninth game, converting his third break point. The Swiss then served out the first set to love.

"(Dimitrov) did give me some opportunities ... but most important was for me to really focus on my game," Federer told the BBC after the match.

"I thought it was a terrific match and I didn't expect it to go that easy for me."

Roger Federer

IMAGE: Roger Federer in action. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Now 26 and seeking his first win against Federer in six matches, Dimitrov sought to up the pace in the second set.

But as he did so the Bulgarian's error count also rose, and he conceded the second set on a break of serve, punctuating a double fault with two forehands that flew long.

That pattern continued in the third set as another forehand error from Dimitrov handed Federer victory on his second match point in just over an hour and a half.

The Swiss faces either Alexander Zverev or Milos Raonic in Wednesday's quarter-final.

"(Winning Wimbledon) is going to be a tough one regardless if I played the French Open or not. The good thing is I am not trying to heal something like last year's (injured knee)," Federer said.

Murray reaches Wimbledon quarters for 10th straight year

Andy Murray

IMAGE: Andy Murray celebrates winning his fourth round match. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Defending champion Andy Murray eased into the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the 10th successive year with a 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Benoit Paire on Monday.

Murray was not at his best against Paire and his faltering serve was frequently exploited by the 46th-ranked Frenchman, who caused the Briton trouble without being able to inflict any lasting damage.

He broke Murray twice in a row in the first set, which ended up going to a tiebreak that the top seed won comfortably.

Murray, who came into the championships with a niggling hip injury, still seems occasionally uncomfortable and lacking his usual zip around court.

He had too much guile for Paire, however, and wrapped up his 26th successive win against French opposition in two hours and 21 minutes.

Raonic ousts Zverev in Wimbledon marathon

IMAGE: Milos Raonic, right, and Alexander Zverev shake hands after the match. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Canada's Milos Raonic survived a marathon fourth round workout against rising German star Alexander Zverev on Monday, knocking out some pundits' outside bet for this year's title 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Seeded sixth and runner-up last year to Andy Murray, Raonic kept his cool on the crunch points, taking five of eight opportunities to break while the 20-year-old 10th seed converted just three of 18.

The big-serving Canadian sealed the match with his 23rd ace after close to 3-1/2 hours' play.

Raonic will face Roger Federer in Wednesday's quarter-final.

Berdych downs Thiem in five sets

Tomas Berdych

IMAGE: Tomas Berdych in action. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Former finalist Tomas Berdych reached the last eight at Wimbledon after coming through a brutal five set tussle with Austrian Dominic Thiem on Monday.

Berdych, who lost to Rafa Nadal in the 2010 final, came through 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in a two-hour-and-52 minute encounter on Court Three against the world number eight.

The Czech, who reached the quarter-finals for the fifth time, will next face either three-times champion Novak Djokovic or Adrian Mannarino.

Berdych, who had only won one of his previous 10 matches against top 10 opposition, was celebrating after firing down his 15th ace.

Comfortable Cilic crushes Agut to reach quarters

Marin Cilic

IMAGE: Marin Cilic in action during his fourth round match. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Lofty Croat Marin Cilic demolished Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 at Wimbledon on Monday, doing the damage on distant Court 12 with his pounding serve and thumping forehand.

The 28-year-old seventh seed has reached the quarter-finals this year almost under the radar with straight-set victories over solid opponents Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer and Steve Johnson, before downing Bautista Agut, who is ranked a healthy 19th in the world.

But the Spaniard looked way out of his depth against the 1.98m (6 ft 6 in) Cilic, who used every centimetre of his height on the fast surface to serve nine aces and whack 39 winners past his opponent, who stands 15 cm shorter.

"You have everywhere advantages and disadvantages," Cilic said of his size and reach. "(It's) just the way you take them and tennis is a game that is extremely complex and you can play it any way you want, so you have to obviously use your advantages well."

Court 12 is billed as a show court, but it is a small arena well to the south of the All England Club ground and away from the hurly burly of the central stages.

Cilic, a former US Open champion, clearly thrived out of the limelight, wrapping up the match in a brisk one hour 40 minutes.

Bautista Agut tried everything, looking for tight angles on groundstrokes and attempting dropshots. He even tried to finish a long rally in the second set with a lob only to see Cilic jump up and win the point with a high backhand volley.

The in-form Croat, runner-up at the Queen's Club warm-up tournament last month, wobbled a little as he served for a place in the last eight, with the Spaniard saving three match points.

But Cilic sealed the match on the fourth with a big serve that Bautista Agut could only parry into the net.

It is the fourth time in a row that Cilic has reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals and he has rarely looked more comfortable.

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