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.
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Louis van Gaal - I could have axed Ryan Giggs and I could have sacked Jose Mourinho, too!
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Radamel Falcao a doubt for Premier League clash
Real Madrid vs Barcelona player ratings: Luis Suarez rated on his debut
Gus Poyet future: Sunderland manager on brink after Arsenal pile misery on top of 8-0 defeat
Manchester United vs Chelsea analysis: Simplest errors at the back are leaving United very vulnerable, writes Danny Higginbotham
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are