Thursday 23 November 2017

Rafa Nadal cruises into fourth round at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal of Spain acknowledges spectators after winning his men's singles match against Leonardo Mayer
Rafael Nadal of Spain acknowledges spectators after winning his men's singles match against Leonardo Mayer

Eleanor Crooks

Rafael Nadal is through to the fourth round of the French Open without dropping a set after defeating Leonardo Mayer on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The eight-time champion overcame a few sticky moments in the second set to see off the Argentinian 6-2 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes.

Nadal had been hugely impressive in defeating rising star Dominic Thiem in round two and he started in the same vein against Mayer.

It was the first warm and sunny day of the tournament, which helped Nadal's extreme spin fizz off the clay.

He won five of the first six games and looked on his way to a very straightforward victory when he broke the Mayer serve again early in the second set.

But Mayer began to put a lot more pressure on the Spaniard and got his reward when he broke back for 4-4.

In the next game he was two points away from taking the set but Nadal held on and then broke the Mayer serve once more with a precision lob, the Argentinian imploring the ball to go long then shaking his head when it landed on the line.

Nadal let a break slip away at the start of the third set as well but finally broke Mayer's resistance with a run of five straight games to win the match.

Next the world number one will face Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who is through to the last 16 on his first appearance at Roland Garros.

The 23-year-old, who defeated Jack Sock in straight sets, said: "I can't be more happy than this. To play Rafa on Chatrier is one of the biggest dreams and biggest challenges."

Fifth seed David Ferrer is yet to drop a set this tournament, with 32nd seed Andreas Seppi his latest victim in a 6-2 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 victory.

Last year's runner-up has now made at least the fourth round in 16 consecutive grand slams and will look to make it 10 straight quarter-finals when he takes on Kevin Anderson.

The 6ft 8in South African was involved in a battle of the giants against 6ft 11in Ivo Karlovic but the Croatian had to pull out after a set because of a back problem.

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