Photo: Nadal Wins French Open Quarterfinal Match on 27th Birthday
Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrated his 27th birthday on Monday in style, defeating Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the French Open.
“Two days ago, I could only have dreamed of playing like this,” the seven-time French Open champ said.
Nadal’s next opponent will be Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, who came back to beat France’s Richard Gasquet 6-7 (5-7), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 in a match that went four hours and 16 minutes.
“I have improved a bit, or more than a bit, in everything. I played at a high level, but I have to keep improving,” Nadal said, adding that not being broken by an opponent “is always something positive.”
Nadal has a 9-0 career record against Wawrinka.
In other men’s action, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Up next for Djokovic is Germany’s Tommy Haas, who defeated Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.
The 35-year-old Haas is the oldest player to make it to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament since 2005, when American Andre Agassi advanced to the quarters of the U.S. Open at the age of 35.
On the women’s side, defending champion Maria Sharapova of Russia beat American Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-3 in 89 minutes.
Sharapova’s next opponent will be Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, who rolled over American Jamie Hampton 6-0, 6-2.
World No. 3 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus defeated Italy’s Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion, 6-3, 6-0.
The 23-year-old Azarenka, who has never made it past the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, will play Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in the quarters.
Kirilenko beat American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5, 6-4.
The 26-year-old Russian, however, needed a medical timeout due to shoulder problems when she was up a set and 3-2 in the second.
Kirilenko pushed her lead to 4-2 when she returned to the court and never looked back.
“I’ve been close, but I had never made it. This is a big step for me,” Kirilenko said.
The French Open is the second Grand Slam event of the tennis season and the only one played on red clay, the game’s slowest surface.