(June 3, 2013) Rafael Nadal flew into the French Open quarterfinals with an easy straight set win on his birthday while Stanislas Wawrinka had to fight back from a two-set deficit on Monday to win in Paris.
Celebrating his 27th birthday, the Spaniard routined No. 13 Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.
“I played much better today than the first three matches. No doubt about that,” Nadal said. “I started to have feelings with my forehand when I had a chance to hit my forehand. I started to change directions well. I started to feel that I can hit the ball longer and having more confidence in every stroke.”
Nishikori started out well but could not really compete with the seven-time Roland Garros champion. “One bad game for me,” Nishikori said, “and he start(ed) playing well.”
“The second set, I think I was a little bit, you know, too passive or like defensive. He was hitting more forehand. I was running side to side more than first set. You know, he was playing more inside of the court.”
After the victory, Nadal was presented with a birthday cake and gifts as he was serenaded by the crowd with the tune of “Happy Birthday” in French.
“I just can say thank you very much all the crowd for making me feel this special moment very nice,” said Nadal. “And thank you very much to Roland Garros for give me the presents on court. It was very nice from Roland Garros, the organization.
“So just can say thank you very much to give me the chance to enjoy the moment with all the crowd here in Philippe Chatrier in probable the most emotional court for me on tour.”
Switzerland’s Wawrinka’s match was no cakewalk. He had to battle back from a two-sets to one deficit against a Frenchman in France.
Wawrinka advanced to the quarterfinals of Paris for the first time by defeating Richard Gasquet 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6.
No. 7 seed Gasquet was well on his way to a straight set victory when tempers flared in the third set. Wawrinka complained to the Chair Umpire that a line judge needed to be changed.
The No. 2 Swiss tennis player turned the match around. Gasquet grew tired and had some leg pain.
“I was really tired during the fifth set,” Gasquet said.
“I had no choice. The crowd was incredible. They supported me, and they did what they had to do. But I’m disappointed to have lost. That’s all I can do. I can’t give more than I gave today.
“I had some break points, that’s true. You have to find the right dosage between being an attacker or playing from the baseline. He played such incredible shots. I remember this passing shot during the fifth set. It was incredible.”
For his efforts, Wawrinka will play Nadal for a place in the semifinals.
Tommy Haas become the first German in 17 years, and the oldest man since 1971, to reach the quarterfinals in Paris when he demolished Mikhail Youzhny 6‑1, 6‑1, 6‑3
“These are cool stats sometimes to hear and to know about,” said Haas. “You know, makes you proud in the end of the day.
“But, yeah, what I’m really proud is that I reached, you know, the quarters here for the first time, you know, not knowing if that was ever going to be possible.
“And to have done that and, you know, to have a chance to play a quarterfinal match here, it’s a great success for me.”
Haas will take on top seed Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.