Kei Nishikori is on a historical march at Roland Garros, reaching the quarter-finals on a rain-interrupted Sunday.
The 25-year-old Japanese star has yet to drop a set in his four matches in Paris over the past week and is the first Japanese man to reach the quarter-finals since Jiro Satoh, a semi-finalist in 1931 and 1933.
Fifth seed Nishikori produced a string of 40 winners to beat the No. 74-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 58 minutes. He will next challenge fourth seed Tomas Berdych or No. 14 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Nishikori, currently No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, started the pair’s fifth meeting strongly by breaking Gabashvili in the second game en route to a 3-0 lead. He lost just six of his service points and hit 10 winners to clinch the opener 6-3.
Nishikori broke again in a 14-point third game in the second set, and once more for a 4-1 lead as his groundstroke consistency outclassed No. 74-ranked Gabashvili. But the Russian, who notably beat No. 11 seed Feliciano Lopez in the first round, briefly fought back to 4-5 by converting his second break point opportunity in the eighth game.
Gabashvili lost his serve in the first and fifth games of the third set. Nishikori could not convert two match points on Gabashvili’s serve, when he led 5-2, but closed out to 30 in the next game.
Nishikori, who had also beaten Gabashvili 6-3, 6-4 en route to retaining the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell title last month, struck 40 winners including five aces and is now 34-7 on the season.
Gabashvili, 30, was bidding to win four straight matches on clay for the first time in his career. He was also looking to become the first Russian to reach the last eight in Paris since Mikhail Youzhny in 2010.
He committed four less unforced errors than Nishikori (30 to 34), who had been able to pierce holes in each of his service games. Gabashvili has now lost 14 of his past 15 matches against Top 10 opponents. He is 8-12 in 2015.