Rafael Nadal moved a step closer to an incredible 11th French Open title on Monday by seeing off German Maximilian Marterer in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals.
The world number one’s 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) victory over the world number 70 saw him equal the record of 12 last-eight appearances at Roland Garros, which was set by Novak Djokovic the day before.
Top seed Nadal, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Sunday, is now on his own in third on the all-time list for most match wins at Grand Slam events with 234 victories after passing Jimmy Connors.
He powered 39 winners past Marterer, who pushed the Spaniard as hard as he could without ever threatening an upset.
Nadal will face Argentinian Diego Schwartzman for a semi-final spot.
“The third set was very difficult, Maximilian is a good player,” said Nadal, who has now won 37 consecutive sets at Roland Garros, just four short of Bjorn Borg’s record set between 1979 and 1981.
Schwarzman wins thriller
Argentinian Diego Schwartzman staged a thrilling comeback from two sets down to stun sixth seed Kevin Anderson and reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time on Monday.
The 11th seed was totally outplayed in the first two sets, but twice broke Anderson when the South African was serving for the match en route to a 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2 victory.
The 25-year-old, who also reached the quarter-finals at last year’s US Open, will face either 10-time champion Rafael Nadal or German Maximilian Marterer for a last-four place.
World number seven Anderson, who was looking to become the first South African man to make the last eight since Cliff Drysdale 51 years ago, has now lost in the fourth round at Roland Garros on four occasions.
Del Potro through to quarters
Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro brushed aside John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2012 on Monday.
The Argentinian produced an impressive display on Court Suzanne Lenglen, firing 25 winners and making just 14 unforced errors against the American ninth seed.
The 29-year-old Del Potro was knocked out in the third round at Roland Garros last year after missing the previous four tournaments in Paris through injury.
He will face either fellow former US Open champion and third seed Marin Cilic who defeated Italian Fabio Fognini after an entertaining five-setter 6-4 6-1 3-6 6-7(4) 6-3.
Results - Men’s singles 4th round
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4)
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x11) bt Kevin Anderson (RSA x6) 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2
Marin Cilic (CRO x3) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA x18) 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3
Juan Martín Del Potro (ARG x5) bt John Isner (USA x9) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) v Diego Schwartzman (ARG x11)
Marin Cilic (CRO x3) v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x5)
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) v Novak Djokovic (SRB x20)
Dominic Thiem (AUT x7) v Alexander Zverev (GER x2)