Wimbledon champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams were on course for further success at the All-England Club after booking their places in the Olympic singles semi-finals on Thursday.
World No. 1 Federer is scheduled to face Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the final, while Williams is to take on top women’s seed Victoria Azarenka in a repeat of her Wimbledon semi last month.
The two other semi-finals would pit Beijing bronze medalist Novak Djokovic against No. 3 seed Andy Murray, and Russia’s Maria Kirilenko is to face her teammate Maria Sharapova.
Federer secured his place in the last four with a 6-4, 7-6 win over the US’ John Isner, snatching victory in the second-set tiebreak with a cheeky shot which bounced off the top of the net.
“You just feel bad really, but relief because it’s finally over ... maybe I just got really lucky today,” Federer said.
“I don’t want to say that I feel invincible right now, but I feel good,” he added. “I’m not the only guy with confidence ... It’s a complete open tournament, I think. Everyone has a very good chance of going all the way.”
Del Potro, who beat Federer in the US Open final in 2009, overcame Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6 for his spot in the last four.
“I am very happy to be in the semi-finals in my first Olympic Games. It is amazing. I don’t have too many words to explain this moment,” the eighth seed said.
Second seed Djokovic dropped just one game in the first set of his quarter-final clash with France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was exhausted from playing in both the doubles and singles on Wednesday after clocking up the longest three-set match in Olympic history a day earlier.
Although the Frenchman took a 3-1 lead in the second, five-times Grand Slam winner Djokovic clawed it back to win 6-1, 7-5.
Watched by Prince William and his wife, Kate, Britain’s Murray eased to a 6-4, 6-1 win over injury-troubled Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who received treatment on his right arm and shoulder after the first set.
In the women’s event, Belarusian Azarenka booked her place in the final four with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
Russia, which made a clean sweep of the women’s singles medals in Beijing, can be sure of taking home at least one in London, with Sharapova and Kirilenko both through to the semi-finals.
The pair are to play each other for a spot in the final after No. 3 seed Sharapova ended Kim Clijster’s hopes of an Olympic medal before her planned retirement later this year, beating the Belgian 6-2, 7-5.
Having been broken in the second set, a valiant Clijsters battled back to level the score, but was broken again and with the Russian serving for the match, the Belgian ploughed a backhand into the net to hand her opponent the victory.
“Kim is so experienced, I knew that it would be really tough ... it was such a tight second set, I was just happy to get through this one,” Sharapova said, excited that a Russian would reach the final.
“No matter who’s there, someone will be getting a gold or silver medal. It makes me really happy that one of us will represent our country in the finals, going for gold,” she added. “It’s a pretty great honor not just to be here, but to have a chance to win a gold medal. We’re so happy.”
No. 14 seed Kirilenko overcame Czech former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6, 6-3, while the US’ Williams made light work of Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, dismissing the eighth seed 6-0, 6-3.