The Round of 16 is over and most of the key players are still standing in the 2013 French Open, including seven-time champion Rafael Nadal, who breezed by Kei Nishikori, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, and celebrated his 27th birthday on Phillipe Chatrier with a hilariously awkward sparkler cake celebration. Nadael had his easiest match of the tournament so far, and it couldn't have come at a better time for him with the truly fine opponents on his plate this week.
Later in the afternoon, seventh-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet and Swiss nine-seed Stanislas Wawrinka played one of the best matches of the tournament so far. Gasquet rode an absolutely raucous crowd to a two-set lead, but Wawrinka, who had a devastating backhand working for him, came storming back, winning 6-7 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6.
The match was even closer than the final scoresheet would indicate, with so many games coming down to several deuces, the net points won were just about deadlocked (70 percent and 69 percent), as were the aces (13 to 10 in Wawrinka's favor) and unforced errors (55-46, with Gasquet the cleaner player). The crowd roared one last time before Gasquet left the court, and Wawrinka gets the consolation prize of facing Nadal on Wednesday.
Novak Djokovic showed more of a net game in his Round of 16 matchup with 16th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, particularly in the later sets after dropping the first. Djokovic advanced, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. He'll face the oldest player so far this decade to reach the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, 35-year-old Tommy Haas, who steamrolled past Mikhail Youzhny, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
Four female Americans made the Round of 16 at Roland Garros, but only Serena Williams will advance to the quarterfinals, as unseeded upstarts Bethanie Mattek-Sands -- who upset 2011 champ Li Na last week -- and Jamie Hampton fell in straight sets. Mattek-Sands put up a solid fight against No. 12 seed Maria Kirilenko, but couldn't break the Russian, losing 7-5, 6-4. Hampton put forth a solid effort in her best Grand Slam appearance in her young career, but was swept out of the building by former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the last match of the day, 6-0, 6-2.
Serena Williams Twitter beefer Sloane Stephens, the 17 seed, tied her career-best run at Roland Garros, but was no match for the defending champ Maria Sharapova, who is at the top of her game. Sharapova and Williams are pretty much on an unavoidable crash course for a Saturday final after Sharapova's 6-4, 6-3 win over Stephens.
Finally, the No. 3 seed, Victoria Azarenka, made quick work of 2010 champ Francesca Schiavone, 6-0, 6-3, and needs just to get by Kirilenko for a face-off with Sharapova in the semifinals.