Rafael Nadal celebrated his 27th birthday with a humongous cake after defeating Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open on Monday.
For the first time in the tournament, Nadal dominated a match from first ball to last ball. The win seemed to ease any concerns he may have had going into the quarterfinals.
"If you told me two days ago, I would play like this today I would say give me the paper, I will sign it," Nadal told reporters after the match.
He'll get a weary Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. The Swiss No. 2 came back from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 in a supremely high-quality match that lasted more than four hours.
Nadal always celebrates his birthday at Roland Garros, which means the tournament must feel tasked with upping the ante every year. This time, the crowd serenaded the seven-time champion twice, before and after the win, but it was the cake that stole the show. Seriously. Look at that thing:
Granted, I think the only part that's actually edible is the third layer that's shaped like a tennis ball. But still, that's quite the presentation. Are the French Open organizers hoping Nadal's mouth will be too full of cake that he'll stop lashing out at their scheduling decisions?
"Thank you very much for Roland Garros for giving me the presents," Nadal said after the match. "To give me a chance to enjoy the moment with all the crowd here on Philippe Chatrier."
Even Nadal seems embarrassed by this monstrosity.
To win his eighth Roland Garros title? To not have to face Novak Djokovic in the semifinals? To get through the tournament with his knees intact? I wonder what his wish was.
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