(May 31, 2015) Kei Nishikori made history on Sunday at the French Open. His victory over Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 made him the first Japanese man in more than 80 years to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open. Jiro Satoh, who reached the semifinals twice at Roland Garros in 1931 and 1933.
The fifth seed put on a dominant performance, breaking his opponent five times and hitting 40 winners.
I think to (reach) quarterfinal that’s the first goal for this week, I mean, these two weeks,” Nishikori said. “I knew I can do this because, you know, I was doing well these clay court season, started last year. I mean, I hope it’s just, you know, the start of my journey, and I hope I can keep going. Yeah, this is first time to be quarterfinal in French Open, so it means a lot for me.”
Nishikori will play No. 14 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who defeated No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3.
“We haven’t played (in) a long time, maybe couple of years,” said the world No. 5. “But, you know, he was injured and he came back now and he’s coming back very strong. You know, he has a big serve, big forehand. He’s always a dangerous player. He’s the top-10 player, I think. So it’s going to be fun match.”
“He’s a very good player,” Tsonga said of his next opponent. “He’s younger than me. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s able to do many things on court. I had problem to play against him in the past, so for me it’s gonna be the opportunity, you know, to take revenge and try to, again, to play my best tennis and try to reach the semis.”
For Tsonga, it will be his third quarterfinal appearance at his home major.
No. 8 seed Stanislas Wawrinka easily reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Frenchman Gilles Simon. Wawrinka awaits the winner between Swiss countryman and second-seeded Roger Federer and Frenchman Gael Monfils. The match was called for darkness tied a set apiece, 6-3, 4-6. The match will resume on Monday.
“I know if I have to play Gaël or Roger, it’s going to be a tough one,” Wawrinka said. “I have to get ready. I’m going to do my routine, come, practice, do my press, and that’s it.”
In women’s play, there was a 2 hour and 40 minute rain delay during early play. 2008 champion and seventh seed Ana Ivanovic is back in the quarterfinals for the first time since the year she won, defeating No. 9 seed Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
Asked about what it feels to back the quarterfinals, she told media: “To be honest, coming into the tournament I didn’t really, you know, expect that at all. But I really worked hard for each match. I worked hard even before the tournament to reach the quarterfinal again here. It feels amazing. Yeah, very proud the way I played in the third set.”
“On the one hand it does feel like it’s different life,” Ivanovic said about the seven years since she last reached this stage at the French Open. “In the other hand, you know, I feel like time is really flying. I feel it hasn’t been that many years. I definitely do have the feeling it’s amazing.”
The Serbian will play will face No. 19 Elina Svitolina, who had problems closing out local favorite 19th seed Alize Cornet to reach her first major quarterfinal with a 6-2, 7-6 (9) victory.
Cornet fought hard to the keep the match going and saved five match points. “I have been expecting this from her, because she’s obviously a great fighter,” Svitolina said. “I have been now a lot of matches when she was winning when she was so down. I was expecting this, but actually I was trying to stay calm and just play my game. Of course, it was tough with the wind against the crowd and against the player. She was fighting. I think she gave her best, and, yeah, I’m really happy that I could, that the last point was on my side.”
This will be Svitolina’s first quarterfinal at a major and says she’s up to the challenge.
“It’s great for me, and it shows that I’m moving right way. Brings me a lot of confidence this win. And of course from this tournament I will take a lot of positive things from me. And of course, yeah, I have been showing good spirit, good fight, few matches before when I was down, and today I was up and losing few games, which I normally win. So there is a lot of things to take from this tournament, and it’s not finished yet. I will try my best in quarterfinal. And, yeah, I’m looking forward to it and feeling really confident from today’s match.”
Due to the rain, two women’s round of 16 matches were postponed until Monday – defending champion and second seed Maria Sharapova will be up against 13th seed Lucie Safavrova and No. 21 Garbine Muguruza vs. No. 28 Flavia Pennetta.