LONDON: Six-time champion Novak Djokovic targets a place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the 13th time on Sunday as his great rival Roger Federer revealed he hopes to play at the All England Club “one more time”.
Top seed Djokovic, seeking to move level with Pete Sampras as a seven-time champion, faces Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven, the world number 104.
The Serb’s last-16 tie will be a highlight of a landmark day, with middle Sunday becoming a permanent feature from this year.
It has traditionally been a rest day with the exception of a handful of occasions when rain in the opening week forced a quick planning reset.
One of the special guests on Centre Court to mark the stadium’s 100th anniversary was Federer.
The eight-time champion is sitting out the 2022 championships as he continues his slow recovery from knee surgery.
However, he insisted that he plans to be back in 2023, even though he will be within sight of his 42nd birthday.
“I hope I can come back one more time,” said the 20-time Grand Slam winner. I’ve missed it here,”
Federer has been out of action since a quarter-final loss at Wimbledon last year before undergoing another bout of knee surgery.
“I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead,” said Federer, who received a standing ovation when he entered the court.
‘Knee rough on me’
“I maybe didn’t think it was going to take this long to come back — the knee has been rough on me.”
By the time Federer returns next year, Djokovic could be a seven-time Wimbledon winner.
The 35-year-old dropped a set in his opening win over Kwon Soon-woo but has since coasted, losing just 14 games in the next two rounds.
He faces van Rijthoven, who was ranked outside the top 200 just a month ago.
Having won his first ATP title on grass at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Dutchman is making the most of his Wimbledon wild card.
Victory for Djokovic would set-up a mouthwatering quarter-final against Carlos Alcaraz if the 19-year-old Spaniard sees off Italy’s Jannik Sinner.
The swashbuckling Alcaraz is bidding to reach his third Slam quarter-final but first at Wimbledon.
Outsiders break through
Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul will set up an all-American quarter-final if they overcome Belgium’s David Goffin and British ninth seed Cameron Norrie.
Rafael Nadal remains Djokovic’s biggest barrier to a fourth successive title after making the last 16 on Saturday.
But mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios cannot be ruled out after he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in a bad-tempered clash.
Tsitsipas branded Kyrgios “a bully” with an “evil side” after a fiery third-round duel in which both men were warned over their behaviour.
After world number one Iga Swiatek was knocked out Saturday, the bottom half of the women’s draw is also wide open, with world number two Ons Jabeur the only top 10 player remaining.
Three women booked their places in the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time on Sunday.
Marie Bouzkova, the world number 66 from the Czech Republic, breezed past Caroline Garcia of France 7-5, 6-2.
“I don’t know how I got here,” said 23-year-old, who had never previously progressed beyond the second round at a major.
Mother-of-two Tatjana Maria is also through to her first Slam quarter-final, 15 years after her debut.
The 34-year-old saved two match points to defeat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 after battling back from 1-4 down in the second set.
Maria, ranked 103, fired nine aces and exploited Ostapenko’s all-or-nothing approach, which resulted in 52 winners and 57 unforced errors.
“It makes me so proud to be a mum — that’s the best thing in the world,” said Maria, who only returned from a second maternity leave less than a year ago.
Maria will face fellow German Jule Niemeier for a place in the semi-finals after world number 97 Niemeier beat Heather Watson 6-2, 6-4.
Jabeur tackles Belgian 24th seed Elise Mertens, who defeated 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the last 32.
Should Jabeur make the quarter-finals for a second successive year, she will play Bouzkova.