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Nadal breezes into French Open final eight

Press Association logoPress Association 4/06/2017

Rafael Nadal returned to Roland Garros after his birthday celebrations and showed no signs of slowing up, hammering compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-2 6-2 in a fourth round performance that was also an emphatic statement.

Nadal destroyed his opponent on Court Suzanne Lenglen to move into the quarter-finals and one step closer to a 10th French Open crown.

Nadal, who turned 31 on Saturday and celebrated with two cakes, will next face another Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta, for a place in the semi-finals.

"He's a friend whom I appreciate very much," Nadal said of Carreno Busta.

"I hope things are going well for him, and he's someone I really like. He's a good person. I think he deserves it."

Whether Nadal will be so generous in the quarter-finals is extremely unlikely as he continues to obliterate his opposition.

The supreme claycourter, Nadal has managed to lift his level even higher this year. So far he has lost just 20 games - a record only bettered by the 19 he lost in 2012.

"This week was very positive. My level was good throughout the match. I won quite easily. Therefore, this has given me quite a lot of confidence," Nadal said.

"I have the impression I'm doing things well. I'm on the right track.

"And yet I fully respect each opponent and I respect the tournament itself, and each situation, as well."

Nadal has not lost a set so far this tournament, and is on track to win the title without doing so, something he did in 2008 and 2010. Only Bjorn Borg (1978 and 1980) and Ilie Nastase (1973) have also achieved that feat.

His countryman Carreno Busta, who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last 18 months, going from a ranking of 67 at the start of 2016 to world No.21, sent Canadian world No.6 Milos Raonic packing in five sets.

Carreno Busta, underpowered against Raonic, ground out the win 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (8-6) 6-4 8-6 as 84 unforced errors spewed from the Canadian's racquet.

The win was Carreno Busta's first over a top-10 player.

Joining the Spanish duo in the quarters is defending champion Novak Djokovic who got past another Spaniard in Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Djokovic outclassed Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 6-3 and will face rising Austrian star Dominic Thiem in a rematch of their 2016 semi-final, which Djokovic won 6-2 6-1 6-4.

"After that (first set) I started playing with fewer errors and that was good. That gave me a lot of confidence," Djokovic said.

"Now it is the quarters in a grand slam and facing Dominic is not easy.

"He is a one of the best players in the world, especially on this surface."

Thiem advanced to the quarters with an easy 6-1 6-3 6-1 win over Argentine world No.65 Horacio Zeballos.

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