Paris: Rafael Nadal reached the final 16 of the French Open with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Eduardo Schwank of Argentina, making sure he would be in a happy mood to celebrate his birthday, while Li Na, the women singles defending champion also advanced after she disposed of America's Christina McHale 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
The second seed and defending champion, who turns 26 Sunday, blasted 32 winners to wear down Schwank in 136 minutes Saturday.
Li, the seventh seed, had to draw upon her experience to prevail from a first-set loss.
"In the first set I was made to follow her rhythm, feeling as if she is the champion on the court," Li Na was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
"I made some changes in the last two sets and played my game. And I think she lost mainly because she lacks experience, give her one or two years, she could be very formidable," she said.
McHale, ten years younger than Li, agreed that the Chinese veteran's experience made the difference.
"I think her experience did help her get out and be able to raise her level in the second and third," she said.
Second seed Maria Sharapova swept past China's Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-1 to reach the fourth round of French Open Saturday.
The Russian fired 27 winners to complete the match in 66 minutes, continuing her chase for the Grand Slam title that still eludes her.
In the final 16, she will face Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova who put out Russian 22nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-5.
"I came in knowing that I was facing a tough opponent who has beaten me before and against who I have played three sets," said Sharapova.
"She can really play, hits the ball really well, so I tried to keep her moving, tried to get her on the run, and I thought that was really important, especially against her," she said.
Peng, who had her left hand and right leg injured prior to the French Open, said she was tormented during the match.
"Due to the injuries I am suffering, everybody knows that I had no chance to win, and if it had not been the French Open, I would have pulled out," she said.
Italian 14th seed Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 champion and runner-up to Li last year, lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-8 to America's Varvara Lepchenko, the world number 63, who has reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, reached the last 16 for the third time but she did it the hard way, serving up eight double faults and committing 37 unforced errors in her 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Russian world number 109 Nina Bratchikova.
Also making the last 16 was Yaroslava Shvedova, a quarter-finalist in 2010, who eased past Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-4, 7-5.
6-David Ferrer, Spain, bt 27-Mikhail Youzhny, Russia, 6-0, 6-2, 6-2
4-Andy Murray, Britain, bt Santiago Giraldo, Colombia, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
12-Nicolas Almagro, Spain, bt Leonardo Mayer, Argentina, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
20-Marcel Granollers, Spain, bt Paul-Henri Mathieu, France, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-1
17-Richard Gasquet, France, bt Tommy Haas, Germany, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-0, 6-0
8-Janko Tipsarevic, Serbia, bt 29-Julien Benneteau, France, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4
13-Juan Monaco, Argentina, bt 19-Milos Raonic, Canada, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4
2-Rafael Nadal, Spain, bt Eduardo Schwank, Argentina, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4
2-Maria Sharapova, Russia, bt Peng Shuai, China, 6-2, 6-1
7-Li Na, China, bt Christina McHale, United States, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Varvara Lepchenko, United States, bt 14-Francesca Schiavone, Italy, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6
Yaroslava Shvedova, Kazakhstan, bt Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain, 6-4, 7-5
4-Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic, bt Nina Bratchikova, Russia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
23-Kaia Kanepi, Estonia, bt 9-Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3
Klara Zakopalova, Czech Republic, bt 22-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia, 6-3, 7-5