They are so superior to their challengers that halfway through the French Open, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are on track to complete the rarest of all grand slam sweeps.
Forget for a minute Djokovic’s much-hyped quest for the Serb slam at Roland Garros, the so-called Big Four are on course to pull off something never seen before in 45 years of professional tennis.
Call it the Semi Slam, if you like.
Straight-set third-round wins on Saturday for Nadal and Murray put the fancied pair into the last 16, where Djokovic and Federer predictably arrived on Friday.
Two more wins each for already the most consistently-dominant quartet in men’s tennis history and Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray will feature in the semi-finals for a third straight major.
That in itself is a feat no four men have managed before.
In fact, until the Australian Open in January, the same four men had never even previously featured in the semi-finals at back-to-back slams.
If not for Federer throwing away a two-set advantage for the first time in his glorious grand slam career against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon last year, the Semi Slam could have been completed at Roland Garros this week.
Not to worry, few would back against it happening next month instead at the All England Club after Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and the still major-less Murray once again conquered allcomers over the first week in Paris.
Nadal once more looked invincible on Saturday, breezing past Argentine Eduardo Schwank 6-1 6-3 6-4 to improve his phenomenal record at Roland Garros to 48 wins and one defeat.
The six-times champion will meet Juan Monaco on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals after the 13th-seeded Argentine edged big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 in a third-round thriller.
Presuming he takes care of Monaco, the Spaniard’s last-eight opponent will be 12th-seeded countryman Nicolas Almagro or eighth-seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic, two rivals Nadal has spanked on 10 out of 10 previous occasions.
After battling back spasms in his second-round victory over Jarkko Nieminen, Murray reported no such pain in a his 6-3 6-4 6-4 success over Santiago Giraldo, the Colombian claycourter who brutally dispatched Bernard Tomic from the draw.
Murray even impressed himself with the perfect game in his opening service game of the second set, delivering four straight aces.
“That’s happened before on the tour, but I don’t know the last time it happened,” he said.
Next up on Monday for the Scottish fourth seed is Richard Gasquet, the hot-and-cold Frenchman who Murray so impressively beat from two sets down two years ago in Paris.
“He’s going to have the crowd behind him,” Murray said.
“Right now this has probably been his best surface, so it’s going to be a tough match.
“But when I played him here last time, I hung in, I fought really hard and just managed to turn the match around.
“When he plays well, he’s a very, very tough guy to beat. He plays some unbelievable shots.”
Sixth seed David Ferrer, who won a staggering 22 points in a row – almost a full set – in his 6-0 6-2 6-2 third-round demolition of Mikhail Youzhny, plays fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers in Monday’s other quarter-final qualifier.R Soft Web Hosting