French Open: Rafael Nadal enjoys latest of many happy returns in Paris
Spaniard celebrates birthday by reaching last eight at Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal knows it is a good year when he celebrates his birthday here at the French Open. Since 2004 the only time when the Spaniard's celebrations have not been à la parisienne was in 2009, when he suffered his only defeat in 57 matches at this tournament, losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round.
A giant 27th birthday cake was duly wheeled on to Philippe Chatrier Court at the end of Nadal's latest victory, a 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 triumph yesterday over Japan's Kei Nishikori. Although the world No 4 struggled at times in the first set, he said afterwards that it was his best performance of the fortnight so far. In particular, he felt more confidence in his forehand, which is so often a key to his game.
Having dropped the first set in his opening two rounds, Nadal has now enjoyed two straight-sets wins in a row. After Nishikori held serve at the start of the second set, Nadal won seven games in succession. He needed only one break in the fourth game of the third set to secure victory after two hours and two minutes.
The victory earns a quarter-final meeting with Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Richard Gasquet 6-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 after four hours and 16 minutes in one of the matches of the tournament. It was the sixth time in Wawrinka's career that he has won a match from two-sets down – four of those comebacks have been here – and the fifth time Gasquet has lost from two-sets up.
Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 champion, looked likely to push Victoria Azarenka hard when the score was 3-3 in the first set, but the Belarusian then won nine games in a row to complete a 6-3, 6-0 victory. Azarenka will now meet Maria Kirilenko, who reached her first quarter-final here by beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5, 6-4. Maria Sharapova is also through after a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sloane Stephens.
US Open 2014: Roger Federer vs Roberto Bautista Agut match preview
Danny Welbeck joins Arsenal: Welbeck joins growing British core among Arsenal squad - but it wasn't always this homely
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal triggers United upheaval as 13 players leave club since manager arrived
Chelsea completed transfers: A profile of the new arrivals including Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Loic Remy
- 1 David Sedaris: What I learnt from Fitbit about the world around me
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: 'It's only rape if the victim is conscious'
- 5 Katie Hopkins in tears over weight gain challenge: ‘I hate fat people for making me do this’
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain