Paris - Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal celebrated his 27th birthday in ruthless style on Monday by trouncing outclassed Japanese 13th seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the French Open quarter-finals.
It was third-seeded Nadal's 56 win in 57 career matches at Roland Garros as he moved closer to becoming the first man in history to win the same Grand Slam title eight times.
Next up for the defending champion is either French seventh seed Richard Gasquet or Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss ninth seed.
Nadal arrived in Paris having collected six titles in eight finals since his return from a seven-month injury lay-off.
But he was sluggish in the first week of a cold and damp Paris, losing the opening set of his first two matches for the first time in his Grand Slam career.
Since the weather has improved, so has the Spaniard, seeing off Fabio Fognini in straight sets on Saturday and then comfortably defeating Nishikori, the first Japanese man in the fourth round since Fumiteru Nakano in 1938.
"It's a very special moment," said Nadal, as the crowd welcomed him to Court Philippe Chatrier by singing 'Happy Birthday' and repeating it on the match's conclusion.
"Kei is a great player and he is getting better every season. But today I think I played my best match of the tournament."
Nadal was presented with a giant birthday cake at the end of the match and he will be looking for more celebrations on Wednesday in the quarter-finals as he holds a 10-0 career lead over Gasquet and 9-0 over Wawrinka.
French Open fourth round results (x denotes seeded player):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER x16) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Tommy Haas (GER x12) bt Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x29) 6-1, 6-1, 6-3
Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN x13) 6-4, 6-1, 6-3
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x9) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA x7) 6-7 (5/7), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6
Maria Kirilenko (RUS x12) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 7-5, 6-4
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x3) bt Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 6-3, 6-0
Maria Sharapova (RUS x2) bt Sloane Stephens (USA x17) 6-4, 6-3
Jelena Jankovic (SRB x18) bt Jamie Hampton (USA) 6-0, 6-2