Spaniard looms as the darkhorse for the title as the favourites begin to find form.
David Ferrer looms as an outside chance of stealing the French Open title after reaching the French Open quarter-finals for the fourth time as Roger Federer aimed to rack up 900 tour-level wins.
Ferrer, the Spanish fourth seed and a semi-finalist in 2012, breezed past South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
The 31-year-old has made the last eight without dropping a set and goes on to an all-Spanish quarter-final against either Tommy Robredo or Nicolas Almagro.
Anderson, the 27th seed, was bidding to become the first South African to reach the last-eight at Roland Garros since Cliff Drysdale in 1968 but his challenge was fatally undermined by 41 unforced errors on a sun-kissed Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Federer, the 2009 champion, will later Sunday attempt to become just the fourth man to record 900 wins on the tour when he meets French 15th seed Gilles Simon.
Victory for the 31-year-old will also give him a spot in a Grand Slam quarter-final for the 40th time.
Only Jimmy Connors (1,156), Ivan Lendl (1,068) and Guillermo Vilas (940) have won more times on the tour than Federer.
On a day of potential landmarks, the Swiss holder of 17 majors can also win his 58th match at Roland Garros, matching the record held jointly by Vilas and Nicola Pietrangeli.
In a battle of tennis dads — Federer has twin daughters while Simon has a son — the 28-year-old Frenchman is trying to reach his first Paris quarter-final.
The winner of that tie will meet either French sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or unseeded Serb Viktor Troicki for a semi-final place.
Tsonga, one of three Frenchmen in the last-16, is seen as his country’s best hope of ending a 30-year wait to crown a men’s champion at the French Open.
Almagro, the 11th seed, takes a 5-0 head-to-head lead over Robredo, seeded 32, into their clash.
Almagro is a three-time quarter-finalist in Paris while Robredo has made the last eight on four occasions.
Robredo missed the 2011 and 2012 French Opens because of a leg injury, an absence which saw the former world number five slip to 471 in the rankings in May last year.
But he has been in a rich vein of form coming into the French Open, winning the Casablanca title on clay earlier this season.