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.
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI: No place for Yaya Toure... or any United defenders
Sami Khedira transfer news: Arsenal can win the Premier League if they sign Khedira in January, says Perry Groves
Manchester City vs Manchester United analysis: Manuel Pellegrini has no excuse for City's lack of a Plan B, writes Danny Higginbotham
Chelsea injury list: Loic Remy lead the Blues' absent players while Diego Costa is set to return
Radamel Falcao: Manchester United ready to seal permanent transfer of striker as 'everything is complete' to extend his Old Trafford stay
- 1 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 2 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 3 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 4 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
- 5 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything