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French Open findings - day 9

Happy Birthday Rafa
by Alexandra Willis
Monday 3 June 2013

Wimbledon.com's thoughts on the pick of the action from day nine at Roland Garros...

Happy Birthday Rafa
As is the custom, Rafael Nadal was presented with a rather large birthday cake on the occasion of his birthday at Roland Garros. Nadal, who dispatched Kei Nishikori in his most convincing performance of the tournament yet, was all smiles as he greeted the arrival of the impressive piece of confectionary. 

Match of the tournament?
In a display for the one-handed backhand purists, Stanislas Wawrinka broke Richard Gasquet's spirit, defeating the Frenchman in five sets on Suzanne Lenglen to reach the quarter-finals. Wawrinka recovered from a two-sets-to-love deficit, beating Gasquet 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 in four hours and 16 minutes to reach his debut French Open quarter-final at his ninth attempt. Gasquet meanwhile was forced to handle his 15th defeat in a Grand Slam fourth round, having won at the last 16 stage just once. 

"It was not my day," Gasquet said. "It was a great match. I was really tired in the fifth set. He was fresher than I was. It was so close. I couldn't do more than I did. But it's always difficult to lose."

Not just a young man's game
Most astonishing statistic of the day? That Novak Djokovic, aged 26, is the youngest man remaining in the quarter-finals. The most elderly of Djokovic's companions in the quarter-finals is Tommy Haas, who reached the last eight at the grand old age of 35. Haas beat Mikhail Youzhny, who took his frustrations out on his racket in spectacular fashion, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to complete his set of career Grand Slam quarter-finals at the 12th attempt, becoming the first German to reach the quarters in Paris since Bernd Karbacher and Michael Stich 17 years ago, and perhaps most significantly becoming the oldest Slam quarter-finalist since Andre Agassi at the 2005 US Open.

Maria Sharapova gave Sloane Stephens no time for thought as she crushed the young American 6-4, 6-3, despite looking up and down at best. "Patience was really important. We had a few freaky points, a few shanks. But overall I was happy with the way I focused most of the match," Sharapova said.

Jelena Jankovic was even more imperious, crushing Jamie Hampton 6-0, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final for three years. Jankovic has won all three of her previous Roland Garros quarter-finals, against Nicole Vaidisova in 2007, Carla Suarez Navarro in 2008 and Yaroslava Shvedova in 2010, but her next test will be the toughest, against Maria Sharapova. 

Victoria Azarenka meanwhile looked the best she has yet with her 6-3, 6-0 win over former champion Francesca Schiavone. 

Djokovic puts the pain behind him
As Novak Djokovic surrendered the first set to Philipp Kohlschreiber in their fourth round, it looked like there was far more on his mind than a tennis match. But the world No.1 rallied to beat the German 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and seems more determined than ever to claim the one prize in tennis that eludes him. It has all the more meaning now. 

Under the radar
Maria Kirilenko has proven herself to be the dark horse of the women's draw, advancing to her first Grand Slam quarter-final with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Bethanie Mattek-Sands in a very relaxed manner. 

Bump back to earth
It was a tough week for Nick Kyrgios, who so impressed in reaching the second round of the main event. The top seed in the boys' singles, the young Aussie was bundled out by Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

Coming up on Tuesday

Philippe Chatrier
Sara Errani v Agnieszka Radwanska
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Roger Federer

Suzanne Lenglen
Serena Williams v Svetlana Kuznetsova
Tommy Robredo v David Ferrer

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below...

Follow the French Open live on ITV and at rolandgarros.com

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