Wimbledon - Day 8: Fritz blitzes back, Djokovic serenades

The singles quarter-finals line-ups were confirmed on a compelling day at The All England Club

Taylor Fritz / Huitièmes de finale Wimbledon 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The 2024 edition of The Championships just keeps delivering and more.

Yet another comeback from two sets down, major winners reigniting their powers, Monday was a stunner in south-west London. Here are the key headlines…

Fritz fights back in five

For two sets Alexander Zverev's mechanical, sizzling serve was doing the business in a high-octane clash with Taylor Fritz.

Somehow the American halted Zverev's run of 56 successive holds at SW19 over the four rounds to start digging his way back into the contest. The world No.12 eventually prevailed 4-6, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-3 to book his fourth major quarter-final.

“It was amazing to do that on Centre Court from two sets down in front of this crowd – it’s just a dream,” said Fritz.

“I was thinking: it sucked to be playing this well and just lose in three straight so let’s take the third. And I took it one at a time."

Fritz, champion on grass in Eastbourne prior to heading to London, has a game strongly-suited to the surface. Over to Lorenzo Musetti to deny Fritz in the Elite 8.

“The key is always going to be serving well and returning well. I feel like if I do those two things well, then I like my chances,“ stated the 26-year-old.

“Luckily for me, it should hypothetically be easier to return serve than it was today in the next match. But he's tricky. He's been playing well. He made the finals of Queen's.

“This will be my first (major) quarterfinal where I'm the more experienced person, having played Novak (Djokovic) twice and Rafa (Nadal) once. Hopefully that will help me a little bit.“

Fired-up Djokovic dominates Rune

Another Grand Slam day, another Novak Djokovic milestone. On Monday the all-conquering Serbian blazed past Holger Rune 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 into a 60th Grand Slam quarter-final and 15th at Wimbledon.

The right knee, operated on less than five weeks ago, doesn’t appear to be hindering the seven-time champion. It's an ominous sign for the rest of the draw.

“I’m very pleased. I don’t think he has played anywhere close to his best to be honest. It was a tough start for him. He lost the first 12 points and I think that got to him mentally,“ said Djokovic, taking on No.9 seed Alex de Minaur in the Elite 8.

“Alex is one of the quickest, if not the quickest, player on Tour. But I’m enjoying my running still at 37. Looking forward to the match.”

In fact, Djokovic's main battle seemed to be against the Danish support chanting "Ruuuuune," which riled the 24-time major winner.

“To all the fans that have had respect and stayed here tonight , I think you from the bottom of my heart and I appreciate it,“ said Djokovic during his on-court interview. “And to all those people that have chosen to disrespect the player, in this case me, have a goooooooood night.“

As ever, Djokovic never needs extra motivation to rise to the occasion on the major stage.

French hopes dashed at Last 16 hurdle

Australian Alex de Minaur had too much in his armoury 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to end the furthest Grand Slam to date for French youngster Arthur Fils.

Remember, de Minaur featured in the quarter-finals of US Open 2020 and Roland-Garros 2024. Plenty of positives for Fils to take, plenty of positives for 'Demon' to take onto court versus Djokovic.

“I don't think you need to talk too much about Novak here at Wimbledon. He's obviously achieved greatness many, many years,“ said the No.9 seed, who defeated Djokovic at the United Cup in January , included in a 1-2 head-to-head standing.

“He's going to be a tough battle. But the type of battles that I want to be playing. Those are the challenges that I want to take advantage of and go out there and show what I can do.“

The tears were flowing for Lorenzo Musetti as the Italian marked a "phenomenal day for me."

The No.25 seed blew out the candles on Lucky Loser Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard's 21st birthday cake with a stellar 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 grass court performance.

“It’s tough for me to get emotional but I think today I think I will. I’ve been dreaming about this moment,“ said Musetti, who paused numerous times to compose himself during an emotional on-court interview.

Later Musetti mused about his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final opponent. "Taylor has been on an amazing run. Also, we played here in Wimbledon two years ago, (6-4, 6-4, 6-3 Fritz) where he was playing one of his best tennis probably, and I was not mature enough on this surface. So definitely will be a completely different match."

As for Mpetshi Perricard, a Lucky Loser from qualifying all the way to the second week, the Frenchman is set to crack the Top 50 for the first time after Wimbledon is done and dusted.

Svitolina spurred on by home heartbreak

2022 champion Elena Rybakina rolled on 6-3, 3-0 when Anna Kalinskaya was forced to retire with a back issue.

Rybakina is in a very 2022 kind of form. Into the Last 8 and the Kazakh will take on last year's semi-finalist Elina Svitolina.

The 29-year-old dispatched Wang Xinyu 6-2, 6-1 on a sombre day, highlighting the power of sport for providing a platform.

Svitolina wore a black ribbon on her outfit in reference to the terrible events in Ukraine.

“Today was one of the most difficult matches in my life,“ said Svitolina. “Mentally it was beyond anything I have ever faced but fails in comparison to what my people at home are going through.

“Maybe also that's why I played really, really loose and very focused on what I had to do. It was a lot of thoughts about what's happening and how sad and all these images that I have in my head about the children, all that horrible things. Also in the same way, the few things that I had to focus on the court. It worked today quite good because I think I played very well.“

Ostapenko in the groove

Roland-Garros 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko is making major moves once again.

The No.13 seed stormed past world No.1 Iga Swiatek's conqueror Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 6-3, meaning the dialled in Latvian has only dropped 15 games across four rounds this fortnight.

“I feel like I'm just doing the things that I have to do. I'm playing aggressive, playing my game, just enjoying it probably more than before,“ suggested the 27-year-old.

“I won it in juniors (2014), of course my goal was always to do my best and try to win it in women's singles, as well.”

Is that dream edging closer to a reality a decade on?

Ostapenko will have to surpass Barbora Krejcikova in the quarter-finals.

The Czech is finally "pain free and illness free" following a disjointed 2024 thus far. Now, the doubles Career Grand Slam champion has also achieved the set in Grand Slam singles quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-3 scoreboard over No.11 seed Danielle Collins.

“I'm definitely very happy with the way that I won today, that I was able to do the extra step that I wasn't in 2021,“ said the Roland-Garros 2021 singles champion. “It feels great. I'm happy that I'm still competing.“