Last year finalists Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem stormed into the fourth round of the French Open on Friday while French wildcard Hugo Gaston, ranked at 239 in the world, defeated Swiss ace Stanislas Wawrinka in an intense five-setter to book a place in last 16. Also Read - French Open 2020: Rafael Nadal on Novak Djokovic Surpassing Roger Federer's Record | WATCH
Twelve-time champion Nadal secured an emphatic straight-sets win over Italy’s Stefano Travaglia 6-1, 6-4, 6-0. The 34-year-old Spaniard, who is seeking a 20th Grand Slam title to equal Roger Federer’s record, on Friday defeated world number 74 Travaglia in one hour and 35 minutes on a covered Court Philippe-Chatrier to register his 96th victory at Roland Garros. Also Read - French Open 2020 Final: Chris Evert Calls Out Novak Djokovic For 'Rivalry With Rafael Nadal Biggest in Sport' Comment
Nadal will next face American qualifier Sebastian Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open winner Petr Korda, for a quarterfinal spot. “He’s my biggest idol. He’s one of the reasons I play tennis,” Korda said of the Spaniard. “Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him. That says a lot about how much I love the guy.” Also Read - French Open 2020: Novak Djokovic Showers Big Praise on Rafael Nadal After Historic Roland Garros Triumph, Says Today You Showed Why You Are King of Clay
The defending champion has dropped just 19 games through his opening three matches at this year’s clay-court Grand Slam.
“We are in a very strange situation, after a lot of months without much tennis, especially for me, that I didn’t play in America, I don’t know if it’s a positive thing or a negative thing,” Nadal said, when asked how important it was to keep his early-round matches short and sweet as per the official tournament website.
“But I take it like a very positive thing. I am playing quite well to win against a player like Stefano today with this score,” he added.
The Spaniard produced 28 winners, 15 more than his opponent, while he made just 13 unforced errors. Travaglia, who had beaten former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan in his previous round, made 24 mistakes.
Korda is the first qualifier to reach the second week in nine years and first man outside the top 200 to make the last 16 in Paris since France’s Arnaud di Pasquale in 2002.
“Today I played against an opponent that he was playing very well,” said Nadal, who may play US Open winner Dominic Thiem in the semi-final, followed by the top-seeded Djokovic in the title match.
“I went on court with the highest respect, just with the goal to play my best. I made a step forward in a lot of ways. He played a great second set, was close. I was able to find a way. Happy for that. I don’t feel that I am that dominant. The result says, but the game is another story. Every single match is a challenge,” he added.
Meanwhile, third seed and US Open champion Dominic Thiem also booked a place in round 4 with an impressive 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Norway’s Casper Ruud.
In the other men’s singles match, former champion Stan Wawrinka saw his run at this year’s Roland Garros end after he was turfed out by French wildcard and world No. 239 Hugo Gaston 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in a five-set battle lasting over three hours.
France’s Gaston won the rain-interrupted tie to become the second player ranked outside the top 200 to reach the last 16.
The 20-year-old, the only home player still standing out of 18 who started in the men’s draw, will face third seed Austrian – Thiem for a place in the quarterfinals.