PARIS Rafa Nadal returned to Roland Garros after his birthday celebrations and showed no signs of slowing up, railroading compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-2 6-2 in the fourth round on Sunday.
In yet another ominous performance, Nadal destroyed his opponent on Court Suzanne Lenglen to move into the quarter-finals and one step closer to a 10th Roland Garros 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 smashes his way through the draw.
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 tracks.
"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.
(Editing by Clare Fallon/Rex Gowar)