Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal eased into the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Monday, but it was charismatic Marat Safin and home hope Andy Murray who fired up All England Club passions.
Five-time champion Federer saw off 2002 champion, and father-to-be Lleyton Hewitt, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2, 6-4 and will take on Mario Ancic, the last man to beat him here, for a place in the semi-finals.
Spanish second seed Nadal, the runner-up for the last two years, saw off Russian 17th seed Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 and will now face Murray who staged a remarkable comeback to beat France's Richard Gasquet.
Murray, bidding to be the first British men's champion since Fred Perry in 1936, won 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 6-4 after four hours of an enthralling tie which finished in the gloom on Centre Court.
Safin, a former world number one whose career was seemingly in terminal freefall, reached his first Wimbledon quarter-final since 2001 with a 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 win over Swiss 13th seed Stanislas Wawrinka.
The Russian, a former Australian and US Open champion, now takes on Spain's Feliciano Lopez.
Unseeded Ancic, whose career has been blighted by illness and injury, came back from two sets down to beat Spanish 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 13-11.
The Croatian shot to fame here in 2002 when he defeated Federer in the first round in what was Federer's last defeat on a grasscourt.
The world number one, bidding to become the first man to win six titles in a row, racked up his 63rd successive win on grass by dismissing Hewitt, the last man to win the title in 2002 before the top seed created his private monopoly.
"I underestimated Mario that day," recalled Federer who has since defeated Ancic five times out of five, including a straight-sets win in the quarter-finals here in 2006.
"I was a little shellshocked. That was my problem. He was new on the tour and it taught me not to underestimate my opponents regardless of their ranking or technique."
Nadal, the four-time French Open winner, cruised through to his third successive quarter-final here, but needed eight minutes of treatment on his right knee after falling awkwardly in the second game of the Court One match.
"I felt something behind the knee. I was scared at the start but it got better later," said the Spaniard.
Safin hadn't reached a Grand Slam quarter-final since 2005 when he went on to take the Australian Open.
"It was still black and white television the last time I made the last eight here," joked the 28-year-old who put out third seed Novak Djokovic in the second round.
Lopez, the 31st seed, reached his second Wimbledon quarter-final with a gruelling 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 8-6 win over 2006 semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis, the Cypriot 10th seed.
Meanwhile, Germany's Rainer Schuettler and Arnaud Clement struck a blow for the thirty-somethings by reaching the last eight and will meet for a semi-final spot.
Schuettler, 32, reached his first Wimbledon quarter-final with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) over Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic.
Clement, 30, the world number 145, also made it through to a first quarter-final with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 over Croatian 19-year-old Marin Cilic.
"I had to come back because I was always trying to work hard, trying to stay fit," said Schuettler, the 2003 Australian Open runner-up whose recent career has been curtailed by a knee injury and glandular fever.