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French Open: Rafael Nadal storms into 4th round; Stan Wawrinka out after five-set thriller

The defending champion Rafael Nadal has dropped just 19 games through his opening three matches at this year’s clay court grand slam.

SNS | New Delhi |

12 times French Open champion Rafael Nadal cruised his way into the pre-quarters of the ongoing Roland Garros after beating Italy’s Stefano Travaglia in straight sets on Friday.

Nadal, who is eyeing a 20th Grand Slam title to equal Roger Federer’s record, defeated Travaglia 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 in one hour and 35 minutes on a covered Court Philippe-Chatrier to register his 96th victory at the clay court Major.

The 34-year-old has been in tremendous form and dropped just 19 games through his opening three matches at this year’s French Open.

“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 world number two produced 28 winners, 15 more than his opponent, while committing just 13 unforced errors. Travaglia, who had beaten former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan in his previous round, made 11 errors more than his opponent of the day.

Nadal will face Sebastian Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open winner Petr Korda, in the next round.

“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.

In another men’s singles match of the day, former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka bowed out of this year’s tournament after losing a five-set thriller in the third round.

Wawrinka, who had won Roland Garros in 2015, was turfed out by French wildcard and world No. 239 Hugo Gaston 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in an intense battle which continued for over three hours.