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's David Moyes may have more joy if he drops the frustrated Robin Van Persie
Tim Sherwood rules out being No 2 at Tottenham Hotspur following embarrassing Chelsea defeat
England 29 Wales 18 match report: Stuart Lancaster's men enjoy their day in the sun at expense of weary Wales
England 29 Wales 18 player ratings: Who was the star man at Twickenham?
FA Cup semi-finals: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirms Lukasz Fabianski will start in goal against Wigan Athletic
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 5 Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised