French Open: Federer marches on, Nadal through

Published by AAP

Roger Federer progresses to the fourth round of Roland Garros for the 14th time; Getty Images
Roger Federer continues his impressive progress at Roland Garros, with Rafael Nadal also into the fourth round.

Roger Federer eased past Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-3 6-1 7-6 (8) on Friday to become the oldest male player to reach the fourth round at the French Open in almost 50 years.

And defending champion Rafael Nadal dropped a set at the tournament for only the second time since 2015 but recovered to beat David Goffin.

Playing in his 400th Grand Slam match, the 37-year-old Federer showed little mercy to his 20-year-old Norwegian opponent, whose father Christian reached the third round when Federer first played at Roland Garros as a wildcard entrant in 1999.

Federer needed little more than an hour to pick up the first two sets, but a rare lapse in concentration allowed Ruud, ranked 63 in the world, to pick up an early break in the third set.

The Swiss reeled the youngster back in, though, forcing the game to a tiebreak where he squandered three match points before winning 10-8.

Federer is now the oldest man to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1972, and the oldest at any slam since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.

A win in the French capital would set a record for the longest gap between winning a second title at a Grand Slam in the Open era.

The Swiss will next meet either French wildcard Nicolas Mahut or Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer.

Spanish second seed Nadal, meanwhile, dropped a set to Belgium’s David Goffin for the first time on clay before sealing a 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The 11-time champion had won all his matches in straight sets the last three years apart from in the quarter-finals 12 months ago, when he lost one set against Diego Schwartzman.

FEATURE: Rivals abound for Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros

It was the first set Goffin has managed to win against Nadal in four meetings on clay, and the earliest round in which the 32-year-old has lost a set here for six years.

But Goffin was unable to turn a set into a real challenge to Nadal, who wrapped up victory after two hours and 49 minutes.

Elsewhere, seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori needed nearly four hours to beat Laslo Djere 6-4 6-7 (10-8) 6-3 4-6 8-6 to book his progression.

French player Benoit Paire reached the fourth round for the first time when Pablo Carreno Busta retired from their match with a right thigh injury with Paire leading 6-2 4-6 7-6 (1).

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