Roger Federer became the oldest man to reach the French Open fourth round in 47 years by winning his record 400th Grand Slam match in straight sets against Norwegian Casper Ruud on Friday.
The 37-year-old Federer, playing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, saw off the 63rd-ranked Ruud 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (10/8) on Court Suzanne Lenglen despite an action-packed fourth set.
Reigning champion Rafael Nadal survived a blip to continue his bid for a record-extending 12th French Open title on Friday with a four-set third-round win over David Goffin, ten years to the day since his shock 2009 exit to Robin Soderling.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner bounced back after an excellent third set from Belgian 27th seed Goffin to win 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 and take his incredible Roland Garros win-loss record to 89-2.
Nadal next faces either Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina or French wildcard Corentin Moutet.
Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori battled into fourth round for the fifth successive year on Friday with a marathon 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 4-6, 8-6 win over Serbia’s Laslo Djere.
Nishikori won through in four hours and 26 minutes – the second longest match of the tournament – and next faces France’s Benoit Paire for a quarter-final place.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner bounced back after an excellent third set from Belgian 27th seed Goffin to win 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 and take his incredible Roland Garros win-loss record to 89-2 – those two defeats coming against Soderling in the last 16 a decade ago and against Novak Djokovic in 2015.
Nadal maintained his record of never having lost in the first week in Paris, although he withdrew injured before the third round in 2016.
He powered 38 winners past Goffin on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a last-16 clash with either Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero or home hope Corentin Moutet.
“David is a very good player. I started the match at a good level,” said Nadal. “After, in the third set, he played very well. I’m very happy to reach the last 16.”
Goffin looked totally outclassed in the first two sets, but claimed his first-ever set against Nadal on clay, and the first the Spaniard had dropped at Roland Garros since last year’s quarter-final win against Diego Schwartzman.
But Nadal refocused and clinched victory in the fourth set when Goffin fired a backhand wide after a single break of serve in game four.
It is the 14th time the 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer has reached the second week in Paris, and he will face Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer for a quarter-final spot.
“It was hard to find weaknesses in his game, so I’m relieved, I’m now going to have a good shower and it’s going to be great,” said the 2009 winner, who hit 52 winners and served 11 aces past Ruud, whose father Christian played the 1999 French Open when Federer made his debut.
“It was a nice match to play in.”
Federer is the oldest man to book a last-16 place since Tunisian-born Italian Nicola Pietrangeli, a two-time champion, at the age of 38 in 1972.
The 20-year-old Ruud, who was ranked as low as 135 earlier in the season, started well, but Federer broke for a 4-3 lead with a sumptuous flicked backhand passing shot and wasted little time in finishing off the set.
Third seed Federer romped through the second set, hitting 17 winners, and then quickly recovered an early break in the third as Ruud started to find some rhythm.
The underdog did well to force a tie-break, saving two break points in game seven, but Federer moved through the gears in the breaker to take a 6-4 lead.
Ruud saved back-to-back match points to keep Federer waiting, though, but saw a set point come and go as the Swiss great successfully served and volleyed before finally completing the win on his fourth match point with an emphatic smash.
Martin Klizan (SVK) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA x22) 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 9-7
Roger Federer (SUI x3) bt Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (10/8)
Kei Nishikori (JPN x7) bt Laslo Djere (SRB x31) 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 4-6, 8-6
Benoit Paire (FRA) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 0-0 – retired
With AFP inputs
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