PARIS – Rafael Nadal celebrated his 31st birthday a day late as he blasted into the French Open quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 stroll over Roberto Bautista Agut on Sunday.
The king of clay showed off the full range of his game against his Spanish compatriot as he steps up his bid for a 10th title at Roland Garros.
Nadal has kept a clean sheet, advancing into the last eight without losing a set — as he did in Paris in 2008 and 2010.
The fourth seed moved into his 11th Paris quarterfinal, tying Roger Federer’s open era record.
“I played against a very good player, and I was able to win in straight sets with very positive result,” Nadal said. “Probably I didn’t play as well as I did the other day, but I still played well, I played some very good shots.
“I general terms, I played well.
“I’m in the quarters and I am healthy. That’s the only important thing for me. The goal always is try your best every day and try to be through to the next round.”
Nadal stands an overwhelming 76-2 at the tournament and 21-1 on clay this season.
Novak Djokovic, the defending champion and this year’s No. 2 seed, also won in straight sets, defeating 19th-seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (5), 6-1, 6-3.
Nadal and Djokovic are now one victory away from facing each other in the semifinals.
Nadal’s quarterfinal opponent will be Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who needed 4 hours, 17 minutes to beat fifth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 6-4, 8-6.
Carreno Busta reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal the hard way, wasting six match points.
Defending women’s champ Muguruza falls in three sets
Garbine Muguruza’s title defense ended with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 loss to 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France.
“The crowd was really tough today,” Muguruza said at a news conference that was halted at one point so she could compose herself after getting choked up.
“Sometimes,” she added, “[fans] should be a little bit more respectful.”
All four of the day’s fourth-round matches pitted one woman who has won at least one major trophy (Muguruza, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur) against a woman who has not. And each time, the less-accomplished player won. Add it all up, and it means that there will be a first-time major title winner at the end of the tournament.
About an hour after Muguruza’s exit, seven-time major champion Williams lost to 30th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.
“She had so many answers today,” said Williams, who also lost to Bacsinszky in the fourth round a year ago.
Kuznetsova, who won the 2009 French Open and 2004 U.S. Open, was ousted by two-time major runner-up Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, while 2011 U.S. Open champion Stosur was eliminated by 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
This will be the first tennis major since 1979 without a past Slam champion in the quarterfinals.