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Tennis: Golden oldie Haas into French Open quarters

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Tommy Haas became the third oldest man, and the first German in 17 years, to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Monday when he swept past racquet-smashing Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Haas, 35, is also the oldest man to make a last eight at any Grand Slam since Andre Agassi at the 2005 US Open.

The 12th seed, who made history in the third round when he needed a record 13 match points to beat John Isner, eased past Youzhny, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in just 84 minutes.

"It was a pretty good performance. I was broken in the first game but I got my bearings, got into the groove," said Haas, who is enjoying a renaissance in a career which has been decimated by a series of injuries.

"He gave me a lot of unforced errors so I just kept doing what I was doing."

Only Pancho Gonzales, who was over 40 when he made the last eight in 1968, and 39-year-old Istvan Gulyas in 1971, have got this far at Haas's age in the tournament.

"The oldest since 1971? I never thought it would be possible to have this success."

Former world number two Haas had lost on clay in straight sets to Youzhny in Rome last month.

But he was never troubled on Monday, winning 10 games in succession after losing the opener.

Such was Youzhny's frustration that he smashed his racquet nine times against his courtside chair, sending splinters spiralling into the air at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The violence of his outburst made him an instant YouTube hit even as the match was still being played.

Haas will be the first German in the last eight in Paris since Michael Stich and Bernd Karbacher in 1996.

He will face either top seed Novak Djokovic or compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber for a spot in the semi-finals.

Later Monday, seven-time champion Rafael Nadal looks to celebrate his 27th birthday in style.

Nadal, bidding to be the first man to win the same Grand Slam title eight times, plays Kei Nishikori, who is trying to become just the second Japanese man to reach the last eight after Jiro Satoh, who made the quarter-finals in 1931 and 1933.

Nadal, the third seed, has a 55-1 winning record at the French Open, but his passage to the fourth round has been far from convincing after dropping the opening sets of his first two rounds for the first time in his career.

Since returning from a seven-month injury lay-off in February, the Spaniard has built up an impressive run of six titles in eight finals.

He has also won 34 of his 36 matches on clay in 2013 -- he lost to Horacio Zeballos in his first tournament back at Vina del Mar in February before seeing his eight-year winning streak at Monte Carlo ended by Djokovic in April.

Nishikori, the 13th-seed, is already the first Japanese man to reach the last 16 in Paris since Fumiteru Nakano in 1938.

Top seed Djokovic, who needs a French Open to become only the eighth man to claim a career Grand Slam, takes on German 16th seed Kohlschreiber.

Significantly it was a 2009 defeat to the German in the third round which helped Djokovic become the force that he is today.

He is bidding to reach his 16th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final -- the last time he failed to reach the last eight at a major was at Roland Garros in 2009.

Richard Gasquet, the French seventh seed, faces Stanislas Wawrinka, the ninth seed from Switzerland.

The winner of that clash will take on either Nadal or Nishikori.

dj/bc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130603/tennis-golden-oldie-haas-french-open-quarters