Roger Federer returned a compliment to Andy Murray and looked ahead to a potential grass-court meeting the morning after a gruelling third-round win at Roland Garros.

Federer made round four at the French Open but was so drained by the experience that he suggested he could yet withdraw from the tournament as he looks to build up fitness ahead of Wimbledon.

The Swiss superstar entered the clay-court major with a 1-2 record for the year, most recently losing to Pablo Andujar in Geneva last month.

However, Federer has strung together three straight wins in Paris, beating Dominik Koepfer in the last 32 in a match that finished in the early hours of Sunday in the French capital.

The match started at 21:00 local time (20:00 GMT), in line with a coronavirus-enforced curfew that ensured the stands were empty on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Despite the strange experience and a determined opponent, Federer came through in four sets after three tie-breaks to continue his pursuit of a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.

During the match, which finished at close to 01:00 local time (00:00 GMT), fellow great Murray posted on Twitter: "I'm not bothered by the outcome of this match at all.

"Just seeing Federer at 39 off the back of two knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12:30am getting fired up is inspirational to me. Do what you [love]."

Murray himself has overcome a series of major injuries to remain on the ATP Tour, even backtracking on a retirement pledge in 2019.

So, Federer replied on Sunday: "Thank you Sir Andy, the feeling is mutual. You gotta love it. See you on the [grass]."

There was no further comment on potentially quitting the French Open, where Federer is appearing for only the second time since the start of 2016 – he made the semi-finals two years ago.

His sublime major form has slowed over the past decade, making only nine finals compared to 22 in the previous 10 years.

If Federer is able to continue, he faces a tough ask on Monday, taking on Matteo Berrettini, who has become the first Italian to reach the last 16 of all four slams in the Open Era.

Roger Federer says he may withdraw from the French Open as he assesses the physical impact of his epic third round win over Dominik Koepfer on Saturday.

The 39-year-old Swiss prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 over Koepfer in the longest match he has played in 18 months, following double knee surgery, lasting three hours and 35 minutes.

Federer laboured at times in the contest, making 63 unforced errors, fighting hard to triumph in front of an empty crowd locked out by Paris' 9pm curfew, with the match finishing close to 1am.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner has played few tournaments over the past 18 months and conceded the physical toll the match took would make him assess his continuation at Roland Garros.

"We go through these matches, we analyse them highly and look on what's next and will do the same tonight and tomorrow, because I need to decide if I keep on playing or not or is it not too much risk at this moment to keep on pushing, or is this just a perfect way to just take a rest," Federer said at his post-match news conference.

"Because I don't have the week in between here and Halle like normal to see what's best now, if you count back from Wimbledon and so forth.

"It's just a lot going on, but having a match like this, knowing I could have probably played a fifth set but not knowing how I will wake up tomorrow is interesting, to say the least."

He added: "Every match here or Geneva, I have to reassess the situation after the match and see in the morning how I wake up and how the knee feels.

"From that stand point for me, it always goes like that… maybe even more so after a match like this that has been long. Like I explained before, I've not been two-three-and-a-half hour battles in practice either."

Federer's third round win sees him move into the last-16 where he is scheduled to play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini on Monday.

Roger Federer has outlasted Dominik Koepfer late into the Paris night in front of empty stands to book his spot in the last 16 of the French Open.

The 20-time grand slam winner survived in three hours and 35 minutes to win 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 7-5, finishing eerily at almost 1am with no crowd after Paris' 9pm curfew forced them home hours earlier.

The 39-year-old was challenged but found a way and will next face ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round, having secured victory in his longest match in 18 months since returning from two knee surgeries.

Koepfer dug in to hold in consecutive early service games, cheering in relief as Federer sent a backhand wide at the end of a near eight-minute back and forth.

The pressure applied by the Swiss great could not avoid a first-set tie-break, yet he never trailed and was able to take the opener following an untimely Koepfer double-fault.

The start to the second was sloppy, with Koepfer broken quickly after battling through a 29-shot rally, before three straight breaks of serve – two to love, the latter sealed with a gorgeous Koepfer return – brought him back on terms to tee up another breaker.

This time, Federer was on the back foot from the outset and fell into a hole from which he could not recover, his latest tired backhand prompting a roar from Koepfer as he levelled the match.

Koepfer had Federer in serious trouble when he broke at the start of the third set, the Swiss star leaving a lobbed return that landed on the line.

The veteran worked his way back, though, and got the contest back on serve at 4-4, even going on to have a set-point opportunity on the German's serve before the match moved into another tie-break.

Just when it looked like Federer was losing control of the breaker after firing a forehand wide, the eighth seed reeled off three consecutive points, a spell that included a thumping forehand winner, to move within a set of victory.

Koepfer was visibly frustrated when he fired a backhand wide in game three of the fourth set, which allowed his opponent - who now had all the momentum - to move ahead with a break.

But nothing was proving simple for either player, as an error-strewn service game from Federer allowed Koepfer to level the fourth set at 2-2.

With the clock well past midnight, Federer dug deep in the fourth set, breaking once more in the 11th game and sealing his spot in the fourth round when the second of three match points on serve saw Koepfer find the net.

Data Slam: A rare first for Federer

With 103 career titles and 20 majors to his name, there are not many firsts for Federer on the ATP Tour these days. However, this match produced one for the man who turns 40 this year.

This was the first time in 424 grand slam contests Federer had played a tie-break in each of the first three sets of a match. And there was almost a fourth straight breaker until he claimed that crucial late strike on the serve of Koepfer.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Koepfer – 55/40
Federer – 51/63

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Koepfer – 11/4
Federer – 6/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Koepfer – 4/6
Federer – 5/14

Rafael Nadal set another French Open record and hit one more grand slam milestone with victory on Saturday, while world number one Novak Djokovic also progressed at Roland Garros.

Nadal, a 13-time French Open champion, reached the last 16 of the tournament for a record 16th time by beating Cameron Norrie 6-3 6-3 6-3.

It marks the 50th time Nadal has made it through to the fourth round of a grand slam in his outstanding career. Djokovic is second on the all-time list with 54 appearances in the last 16 of a major – behind only Roger Federer - after he saw off Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-4 6-1 in just 92 minutes.

While Nadal is set for a repeat of last year's quarter-final against Jannik Sinner, top seed Djokovic will be taking on another promising youngster in the form of Lorenzo Musetti.

DJOKOVIC THRILLED WITH HAMILTON COMPARISON

Djokovic is yet to drop a set at Roland Garros in 2021, with last year's beaten finalist – who is well on course to meet up with his old foe Nadal in the last four this time around – looking every bit worthy of his status as top seed.

His dominant display against Berankis drew comparisons, from one commentator at least, to Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

"It's like the dominance of Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team. Berankis is a great driver, he maximises everything under the hood. But Novak Djokovic is driving a completely different race car," said former French Open champion Jim Courier.

"Berankis can't do the same things. On the same track, he can't race the same. Novak can drive how he wants."

It was a comparison which delighted Djokovic.

"Well, I'm honoured to be compared to Lewis. I respect Lewis and everything he does in his career, but also, off the track with his activism," said the 34-year-old, who is hunting a 19th major win. "Something that truly inspires me and a lot of athletes.

"I don't want to talk about my driving next to Lewis' name. Honestly, it's embarrassing to speak about my driving, and in the same sentence with Hamilton! But the analogy and the comparison of my game with an F1 car, it's definitely something that pleases me."

NADAL ENJOYING ROLAND GARROS BACKING

Given his sensational achievements in Paris down the years, it is no surprise that Nadal feels right at home whenever he returns to Roland Garros.

There were, of course, no fans allowed into the stands last year, but a limited number of spectators, including his family, are on hand to cheer him on once more this time.

"It is true that for the last year and a half it has been difficult for every player, although I didn't play so much," Nadal said.

"Those who have been travelling week after week without the chance to have family and a full team with them is very tough. They have been challenging conditions.

"For me it is very important to have the team and family behind me, because of them I am what I am today. I'm happy to have crowds, that is so important for us."

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

Though the era of dominance enjoyed by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is only just starting to show signs of slowing down – albeit they still monopolise the grand slams – round four is going to throw up two fascinating contests.

Sinner came up against Nadal in the 2020 quarter-finals, and the Italian will be looking to cause an almighty upset this time around after overcoming Mikael Ymer.

Joining Sinner in the last 16 is his compatriot and fellow teenager Musetti, who has the small task of taking on the world's best player following a hard-fought victory over Marco Cecchinato.

It is the first time two teenagers have reached the fourth round at Roland Garros since Djokovic and Gael Monfils did so in 2006.

Coco Gauff was given only a light workout as she led the American talents advancing at the French Open on Saturday.

Seventeen-year-old Gauff played compatriot Jennifer Brady but secured swift passage to round four as her opponent was forced to retire due to injury.

The teenager had produced a ruthless, relentless 19-minute opening set, winning 6-1 before Brady called a medical timeout.

She quickly made the call to withdraw, allowing Gauff to move on and continue her best run at a tournament she won as a junior in 2018. Ons Jabeur is next.

Gauff will be among four Americans in the last 16 after 2020 finalist Sofia Kenin came from behind to beat another compatriot in Jessica Pegula in three sets. Sloane Stephens overcame 18th seed Karolina Muchova in two.

AMERICAN ACES

There had been eight players from the United States in the third round at Roland Garros, with only Madison Keys – beaten by Victoria Azarenka on Friday – losing to a foreign opponent.

Stephens said: "I think obviously American women tennis is in a really great place. I think we all are having good results and everyone is playing well.

"Obviously, it's different. I think we're all friends. We're all very friendly. We all support each other. We all love seeing each other do well, which I think is really nice.

"It's great to have so many players in the top 100, just because we're just a super strong nation right now.

"I think that's also a very cool, super strong Fed Cup team. Everything that you would think of, we have, so I think that's really cool."

SVITOLINA SUFFERS

Stephens will face Barbora Krejcikova next after she claimed Saturday's biggest scalp, defeating fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-2.

Krejcikova identified an epic battle at 4-3 in the opener as the "key game", staving off four break points to hold.

On Svitolina's serve, the Czech converted six of 13 opportunities and, despite breaking in the very first game, felt she improved as the match wore on.

"It was really tough because also I didn't know Elina that well," Krejcikova said. "I never played her, I never practiced [with] her.

"So I didn't really know, I wasn't really sure what kind of ball I should expect. I felt weird.

"But as the match went on and I was playing and playing, I just started to feel better, and actually at the end I was just feeling really well and I was just going for my shots."

SWIATEK SWAGGERS

Kenin has Maria Sakkari in the fourth round following her win over Elise Mertens, but the American could be excused for already having one eye on a potential quarter-final.

She is on course to meet defending champion Iga Swiatek, who beat Kenin in last year's final and is in supreme form again in 2021.

Anna Kontaveit broke Swiatek in the opening game of their clash but could not protect her advantage and was edged in a tie-break.

That set the stage for a devastating display of Swiatek's talent in which she claimed a bagel with only a single unforced error.

Despite the dominant nature of the second set, the Pole said: "It's good to have matches like that because it keeps you down to earth and you have to just be careful on every point and on every game."

Rafael Nadal eased into the second week of the French Open with a 6-3 6-3 6-3 triumph over Cameron Norrie during Saturday's play at Roland Garros.

The defending champion is still yet to drop a set while sailing through to the last 16, where he will take on Jannik Sinner in a repeat of last year's quarter-final clash between the pair.

Nadal was not at his absolute peak against Norrie – he committed 29 unforced errors and had problems holding his serve in the second set, though the Spaniard still produced when it mattered to beat the Briton comfortably enough.

A solitary break was enough to take the opening set, but the third seed was made to work hard in the next – at one stage even finding himself 3-1 down.

After a backhand winner put him up 40-30 in the fourth game, Norrie flashed a fabulous forehand past his opponent to register a second successive break. Crucially, though, he could not consolidate on each occasion.

Indeed, Nadal claimed the next five games as he seized control in imperious fashion, wrapping up the second set after 42 minutes courtesy of a stunning passing shot that was followed by a roar of approval towards his watching team.

With his forehand now in full flow, Nadal motored towards the finishing line in the third and final set.

A break in the fourth game edged him in front and while unable to seal the result at the first attempt when having a match point on his opponent's serve, the king of clay fashioned yet another straight-sets win in the French capital.

Norrie made him work to the very end, at one point sitting at 30-30 in the ninth game, but the relentless pursuit of a record-extending 14th French title continues for Nadal.


Data Slam: Rafa adds another win to the collection

Nadal is now 103-2 for his career at the French Open and is unbeaten in his previous 33 outings at the event. Such is his dominance, the left-hander has secured 32 sets in a row since he lost the second in the 2019 final against Dominic Thiem. 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 35/29
Norrie – 15/21

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal – 3/2
Norrie – 2/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal – 6/12
Norrie – 2/3

Novak Djokovic breezed into the fourth round of the French Open with an emphatic straight-sets defeat of Ricardas Berankis.

The top seed was a cut above the Lithuanian on Court Philippe-Chatrier, cruising to a 6-1 6-4 6-1 victory on Saturday.

Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti stands in the way of Djokovic and a place in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros after a masterful display from the world number one.

Djokovic served superbly, winning 88 per cent of points on his first serve and not facing a single break point, while also producing another exhibition of returning as he wrapped up a clinical victory in only an hour and 32 minutes.

The 18-time grand slam champion put Berankis under pressure immediately, breaking in the second game and taking a 4-0 lead with an exquisite backhand winner down the line.

Berankis was able to get on the board with a smash to reduce the deficit to 5-1, but Djokovic served out a one-sided opening set in only 26 minutes.

Djokovic did not have things all his own way in the second, but claimed the only break to go 3-2 up and was two sets up when his opponent returned a powerful first serve beyond the baseline.

Berankis was being given the run-around as the legendary Serb treated the crowd to sublime winners and demonstrated his incredible athleticism, letting out a huge roar after going 3-0 up with a blistering forehand.

There was no let-up from 2016 champion in Paris, who sealed a crushing victory with his third break in the third set.

 

Data Slam: Djokovic makes more major history

Djokovic has only won the French Open title once, but he has made history at Roland Garros. This victory moved him into the fourth round for a 12th consecutive year, which is an Open-era record.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 30/18
Berankis – 20/36

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 5/3
Berankis – 1/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/9
Berankis – 0/0

The weather could not dampen the spirits of Daniil Medvedev as he reached the fourth round of the French Open for the first time on Friday.

The Russian was in good form as he beat Reilly Opelka 6-4 6-2 6-4 amid rainy conditions in the French capital.

The second seed, who will meet clay-court specialist Cristian Garin next, hit 28 winners to 16 unforced errors in a dominant display on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

It was a display to instil some confidence into Medvedev as he chases the world number-one spot, which he will claim if he reaches the final and Novak Djokovic does not.

"Clay at Roland Garros feels great this year," he said. "As I said after the first round [against Alexander Bublik], now I know that to beat me, the guys have to play well. I am definitely happy with my game and my return today, because I actually hit more aces than him. That's a great achievement.

"I think a little bit [the] rainy conditions, wet, heavy court – which I totally hate on clay – helped me today. In these conditions, even guessing one side, I could still get back to another side if I saw the serve coming the other way."

ZVEREV DIGS DEEP TO PROGRESS

Alexander Zverev joined Medvedev in the last 16, the sixth seed saving three set points in the second set against Laslo Djere before taking nine of the next 11 games to ease to a 6-2 7-5 6-2 win.

"I was down 3-5, 40-0 on his serve and you don't always come back from that score," said Zverev, who will now meet three-time quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori. "He played a fantastic match, he is playing great on this surface so I knew I had to play much, much better than the first two rounds and I did that today."

Twelfth seed Pablo Carreno Busta was also a straight-sets winner, seeing off Steve Johnson to set up a meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who survived a stern examination by John Isner.

Having lost the first set to the big-serving American, Tsitsipas recovered to win 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 at close to midnight local time to extend his winning streak on clay to seven matches.

FOGNINI STUNNED, FOKI EDGES FIVE-SET EPIC

Federico Delbonis stunned 27th seed Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-1 6-3. He will take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who came through a brutal five-set contest with Casper Ruud that lasted more than four and a half hours.

"I think this match represents Roland Garros," said the man known as 'Foki' to his fans. "This match was very tough. He played unbelievable.

"In the fifth set, we were in [a] battle every game. Every game we wanted to win [and] to break the serve of the other guy. It was, with all [the] emotions inside [and] with all the crowd singing your name, unbelievable!"

Serena Williams played down her prospects of winning a record-equalling 24th grand slam title at the French Open, insisting the standard on the WTA Tour is now so high that every match is a battle.

The three-time champion at Roland Garros made it through to the last 16 thanks to a 6-4 6-4 win over Danielle Collins.

However, the American - who has been stuck one slam behind Margaret Court's career tally ever since winning the 2017 Australian Open - had to work hard on Friday, including battling back from 4-1 down in the second set as she reeled off five games in a row to move on.

Williams is the only top-10 player left in her half of the draw following Aryna Sabalenka's exit earlier in the day, yet knows there is a long way to go in her quest to reign once more in the Paris.

"There's still a lot of matches, a lot of great players, as we can see," Williams told the media.

"There's so much depth in this game now, it doesn't matter if you're playing in the first round or not, you really have to fight for every match and nothing comes easy."

After struggling for form coming into the tournament, Williams feels tough contests like the one she had against Collins can only be beneficial.

"Today in particular, this whole week thus far, I just needed a win," the seventh seed said. "I needed to win tough matches. I needed to win sets. I needed to win being down.

"I needed to find me, know who I am. Nobody else is Serena out here. It's me. It's pretty cool."

Elena Rybakina – an impressive 6-1 6-4 winner against Elena Vesnina in little over an hour - is the next hurdle for Williams to clear.

SABALENKA SUNK, AZARENKA EASES THROUGH

With Ashleigh Barty forced to retire through injury and Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the event due to mental health concerns, Sabalenka was the highest seed left – well, she was until coming up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Sabalenka rallied after losing the first set to draw level but then fell apart in the decider, serving four double faults and producing 17 unforced errors.

Pavlyuchenkova capitalised to complete a 6-4 2-6 6-0 triumph that avenges a loss to her opponent at the semi-final stage in Madrid during this year's clay-court swing.

Next up for the 31st seed will be Victoria Azarenka, the former world number one who eased past Madison Keys 6-2 6-2.

"I felt I played very disciplined today. I played smart. I tried to be aggressive," Azarenka said after winning in 70 minutes.

"My opponent, Madison, she really likes to dictate the points, so I tried to take that away from her, really step in, and make a lot of different balls so I’m pretty proud I was able to sustain my level."

MIXED FORTUNES FOR ROMANIAN DUO

Sorana Cirstea explained how a change in approach has helped her roll back the years after overcoming Daria Kasatkina in straight sets.

The Romanian's solitary quarter-final appearance at a slam came in the French capital 12 years ago but she has been in excellent form on clay this year, including claiming a title in Istanbul and a final appearance in Strasbourg.

"I'm taking it day by day, like I'm not going too far ahead with my mind," Cirstea told the media. "I'm actually enjoying all this process. Definitely I'm enjoying [it] much more than I did 12 years ago, and I think this comes with maturity."

While Cirstea has not made it this far in a grand slam for a long while, next opponent Tamara Zidansek is into the last 16 at a major for the first time.

Despite losing the first set in a hurry against Katerina Siniakova, the Slovenian rallied impressively to seal a 0-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 victory and continue an impressive run that was started by an upset over Bianca Andreescu.

Paula Badosa also needed three sets to overcome Romania's Ana Bogdan, including saving a match point, and extend her winning streak to eight matches as she came out on top 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4. Indeed, for the season she now boasts a 16-2 record on clay.

Serena Williams produced an emphatic fightback in the second set to eliminate Danielle Collins 6-4 6-4 and secure a spot in the last 16 of the French Open.

While the first set provided few difficulties for the 23-time grand slam winner, she found herself trailing 4-1 in the second as Collins threatened to force a decider.

But Williams channelled her frustrations impressively, and far better than her opponent, with the 39-year-old setting up a fourth-round clash with Elena Rybakina.

Williams might have had an early advantage as some brutal returns gave her three break points in just the second game of the match, but Collins came back to hold.

The first break eventually came in the seventh game of the contest, Williams squeezing a shot over after a drop shot, then guiding a return to the back of the court with Collins in no position to respond.

Although a second break in the first set eluded Williams, she sealed the set on her serve soon after.

The second set saw Collins' serve broken in the first game, but her response was emphatic, producing back-to-back breaks of her own.

That had Collins in control of the set at 3-1 up, with Williams' frustration evident at the end of almost every point and not helped by her five double faults, one of which gifted away a second break.

Williams began to use that anger for good as she played even more aggressively.

Initially Collins rode the punches well, playing Williams impressively as she forced the seventh seed out wide and then read her cross-court return to seal the fifth game to love and a 4-1 lead.

But Collins quickly fell apart, Williams winning five games on the trot as she came back from a precarious position to seal her progression, showing commendable mental fortitude along the way.


DATA SLAM: GO BIG OR GO HOME

It is fair to say Williams' serving was a little wild at times – she was looking to be aggressive to put Collins on the back foot as early as possible. However, it left her with as many double faults as aces, five apiece. Nevertheless, the three-time French Open champion got the job done, with a huge serve ultimately sealing the victory.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams – 22/20

Collins – 18/21

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams – 5/5

Collins – 1/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams – 4/8

Collins – 2/4

Aryna Sabalenka has been eliminated at the French Open, meaning all three of the top seeds in the women's singles are now out.

After Ash Barty was beaten and Naomi Osaka withdrew this week, third seed Sabalenka joined them in exiting the tournament on Friday.

Number 31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova triumphed 6-4 2-6 6-0 in a battle lasting 100 minutes.

Sabalenka came into the French Open with form behind her having beaten Barty to win the Madrid Open a month after losing to the Australian in another final appearance in Stuttgart.

But depsite having 10 WTA titles to her name, Sabalenka's wait to make a big grand slam impact as a singles player goes on - she he is still yet to reach the quarter-finals at any of the four majors.

Sabalenka won only 10 of her 30 second-serve points as Pavlyuchenkova broke her on five occasions in the match, storming to victory in the decider.

Pavlyuchenkova will face Victoria Azarenka - who defeated Madison Keys - in round four.

Sixteen seeds have now been beaten or withdrawn in the opening days of action at Roland Garros up until the middle of Friday's play.

Roger Federer took "a lot of confidence" from his four-set win over Marin Cilic as he produced his best display of the year at the French Open.

The 39-year-old beat the 2014 US Open champion 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Thursday, building on his first-round defeat of Denis Istomin with an impressive performance.

Federer looked in command in the first set but lost rhythm in the second amid sharpened play from Cilic and a strange confrontation with the umpire after a time violation warning while receiving serve.

The match was on a knife-edge heading into the third-set tie-break, but Federer was clinical when it mattered, serving out the set with an ace before assuming control again in the fourth.

"[It was a] very good match for me, I thought," said Federer, who will face Dominik Koepfer in round three. "A bit of up-and-downs in the second and third sets.

"The good thing, I feel like I come out of a match like this and I know why it was up and down, and then that I was able to attain a solid level once he did break back in the third set and things were looking dangerous for me.

"That I was able to step up a gear, stay with him, and then pull away from him, I think that gives me a lot of confidence."

DJOKOVIC AND NADAL IN CRUISE CONTROL

World number one Novak Djokovic is another who is finding his feet on the Paris dirt, the 2016 champion beating clay specialist Pablo Cuevas 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Djokovic, who will face Ricardas Berankis next after his win over James Duckworth, struck 31 winners as he moved to 22-3 for the year with his 350th grand slam match win.

"I'm playing well, feeling great. I'm ready to go deep in this tournament," he said. "Hopefully, that's going to be the case."

Defending champion Rafael Nadal was in imperious form in the late match, dispatching Richard Gasquet 6-0 7-5 6-2.

Nadal, who turned 35 on Thursday, won the opening seven games in under half an hour in a largely one-sided contest as he improved to 17-0 against the Frenchman, the most one-sided head-to-head of his career.

The Spaniard, who has not even dropped a set to Gasquet since 2008, said of winning once again in three: "I honestly don't complain at all! The main thing for me is to feel myself play well.

"In theory, it's better to save some energy, but at the same time, sometimes when you are pushed at the beginning of a tournament, you went through some tough moments, that helps a lot for the next rounds.

"It happened for me in Rome like this. I had some tough challenges at the beginning of the tournament, and then you get to the quarters, semis and final and you know you're going to suffer and you're more ready for the situation."

MONFLIS OUT, KWON EYEING SLICE OF HISTORY

Cameron Norrie continued the British interest in the French capital, recovering from a set down to defeat Lloyd Harris and reach round three for the first time, and will face Nadal next.

In a mixed day for the seeded players, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini advanced in straight sets while Jannik Sinner beat compatriot Gianluca Mager 6-1 7-5 3-6 6-3.

However, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev was beaten in four sets by veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, while 21st seed Alex De Minaur lost in four sets to Marco Cecchinato.

There was also disappointment for home favourite Gael Monfils. The 14th seed was beaten 6-0 2-6 6-4 6-3 by Mikael Ymer, the world number 105.

However, Thursday saw a moment to remember for Kwon Soon-woo, who reached round three of a major for the first time with a straight-sets victory over Andreas Seppi. He is bidding to become the first South Korean player to get to round four at Roland Garros.

There were impressive wins as well for teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Carlos Alcaraz Garfica, who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets to secure a meeting with Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rafael Nadal stormed into the third round of the French Open with a straight-sets defeat of Richard Gasquet under the floodlights in Paris.

Gasquet, the final French player in either the men's or women's draws, offered some resistance after a terrible start but succumbed 6-0 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes.

Nadal has now beaten Gasquet in all 17 of their meetings on Tour, with the Frenchman falling to a Spaniard for the second tournament running, having lost 6-1 6-1 to Jaume Munar in Parma last month.

The 20-time major singles champion turned 35 on Thursday and seemed eager to go and enjoy what remained of his birthday as he reeled off the first seven games in a row inside half an hour.

Gasquet at last got on the board after a couple of strangely errant forehands from the defending champion, who broke Gasquet again at the third time of asking as he moved 4-1 ahead in the second set.

Gasquet might have dropped to 53 in the rankings, but he offered glimpses of the form that saw him climb as high as seven in the world back in 2008, the one-handed backhand and drop-shot game causing Nadal some problems.

There was a shock when he broke back at 4-5 behind in the second set as Nadal looped another forehand long, but Nadal piled on the pressure at 6-5 and took a 2-0 lead when Gasquet slapped a forehand into the bottom of the net.

A sublime volley and a rasping passing shot saw Gasquet fend off two more break points at 1-2 in the third, but his resistance was finally broken in a mammoth sixth game.

Gasquet's serve deserted him at the wrong moment as he handed Nadal two match points, the second of which was taken via another forehand into the net.

Data Slam: Nadal keeps Gasquet at arm's length

Nadal dropped just seven of 45 points behind his first serve, which averaged speeds of 180km/h, leaving Gasquet with few opportunities to knock the Spaniard off his game.

Such authority meant Gasquet had little chance of snapping his losing streak against Nadal, whose 17 wins from 17 meetings is a career record.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 36/23
Gasquet – 20/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 3/3
Gasquet – 2/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/16
Gasquet – 1/4

Ashleigh Barty described her retirement from Thursday's second-round clash against Magda Linette at the French Open as "heartbreaking". 

Top seed Barty required medical attention during her first-round win over Bernarda Pera two days earlier, with a hip injury the cause for concern.

The 25-year-old – back at Roland Garros for the first time since winning her maiden grand slam title in Paris in 2019 – vowed to "play through the pain barrier", yet the injury prevented her from continuing when 1-6 2-2 down against her Polish opponent, who will face Ons Jabeur in the next round. 

The Australian's retirement throws the draw wide open, with both of the top seeds now out after Naomi Osaka decided to withdraw amid her disagreement with tournament organisers.

Barty's clay-court season ended with a title in Stuttgart, a runner-up finish in Madrid and an appearance in the quarter-finals in Rome, and she could scarcely hide her disappointment at the way things ended for her in the French capital. 

"It's heartbreaking," she told a media conference. "I mean, we have had such a brilliant clay-court season, and to get a little bit unlucky with timing and have something acute happen over the weekend and just kind of run out of time against the clock is disappointing. 

"It won't take away the brilliant three months that we have had, as much as it hurts right now.

"We did everything, absolutely everything we could to give myself a chance. It was a small miracle that we were able to get on court for that first round.

"I just tried to give myself a chance and see how it felt. Obviously practicing, we've had our restrictions and essentially tried to stay as fresh as possible and not aggravate it in any way, but in a match that's unavoidable at times.

"It got worse today and it was becoming at the stage where it was unsafe. As hard as it is, it had to be done. Right from the first game, I was battling the pain, and it just became too severe."

SVITOLINA CRUISES THROUGH, PLISKOVA DUMPED OUT

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina booked a third-round meeting with Barbora Krejcikova after seeing off Ann Li 6-0 6-4. 

Svitolina landed 74 per cent of her first serves and struck 10 winners to cruise past the American in the opening set. 

Li bounced back in the second, roaring into a 4-1 lead, but Svitolina clawed her way back to ensure she reached at least the third round in seven of her nine appearances at Roland Garros. 

Svitolina, who overturned a 2-5 deficit in the second set to beat Oceane Babel in the first round, said: "In the end, what I'm really happy with is the way that I was down in both matches in the second set and found a way. 

"I found a good level and didn't give up on the second set. That was a really good point for me, and I was really playing composed in both matches. It was two different players, but I was really happy that I could win in two sets in both matches."

Up next is Krejcikova, who overcame Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-3.

There is no place in the third round for ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, who was soundly beaten 7-5 6-1 by Sloane Stephens, while number 13 seed Jennifer Brady battled past Fiona Ferro 6-1 1-6 6-4. 

KENIN WINS BATTLE OF THE AMERICANS

Fourth seed Sofia Kenin defeated fellow American Hailey Baptiste, a qualifier who won four matches in Paris on her French Open debut, 7-5 6-3. 

Kenin will now face another compatriot in 28th seed Jessica Pegula, who beat Tereza Martincova 6-3 6-3.

Elsewhere, defending champion Iga Swiatek thumped Rebecca Peterson 6-1 6-1, Coco Gauff got the better of Wang Qiang 6-3 7-6 (7-1), and Elise Mertens edged out Zarina Diyas 6-4 2-6 6-4.

Roger Federer produced his best display of the year to defeat Marin Cilic in four sets in the second round of the French Open.

The 20-time grand slam singles champion overcame frustrations with the umpire and the powerful resilience of his opponent to win 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Thursday.

The Swiss great holds an 11-1 lead in their head-to-head record, that one defeat coming back in the US Open semi-finals in 2014 when Cilic went on to lift the trophy, and it seemed as though Federer had their latest contest on his racquet early on.

He raced into a 5-1 lead in the first set before closing it out in just 31 minutes, the crowd left stunned when the eighth seed stretched up to produce a remarkable drop-shot return winner.

Matters became trickier in the second set as Cilic went 3-0 ahead and only some precise serve-and-forehand work from Federer prevented the double break.

A curious moment occurred with Cilic leading 3-1 when Federer was issued a time violation when receiving serve at deuce. A bemused Federer spoke at length with the umpire before calling to Cilic, "Am I playing too slow?".

Although far from descending into a shouting match, the incident seemed to throw off Federer, who gifted the set to Cilic with two forehand errors and looked unsettled until he refocused with a ripped backhand winner in the opening game of the third.

Cilic forced the tie-break after Federer had spurned an easy chance for a double break, but a double fault from the world number 47 handed the initiative to his rival, who by this time looked imperious on serve and in control from the baseline.

An ace on his first set point wrapped up the breaker and another Cilic double fault saw him fall a break behind in the fourth. This time, Federer did not allow a sniff of a comeback.

Data Slam: Federer back in the groove with clinical display

More accustomed to facing Cilic in the later stages of majors – he has beaten the Croatian in Wimbledon and Australian Open finals – Federer nonetheless needed to find something close to his best tennis after allowing early control to slip away in only his fourth match since returning after knee surgery.

The 39-year-old fired down 16 aces to one double fault and 47 winners to just 27 unforced errors. As Cilic said before the contest: "No matter the age, Roger has the formula."

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Cilic – 43/44
Federer – 47/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Cilic – 12/6
Federer – 16/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Cilic – 3/8
Federer – 5/16

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