French Open: Nadal and Djokovic notch up contrasting victories; Muguruza through to 4th round

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shotRafael Nadal was lethal, lethal to say the least. The 14-time major champion was on beast mode today as he ruthlessly destroyed his third round opponent Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 in a match that was as one-sided as it could be. His booming forehands along with their unfaltering accuracy asked questions for which his competitor had no answers and it was only in the twelfth game of the match that Basilashvili could get onto the scoreboard. With this victory Nadal has extended his French Open win-loss record to 75-2 and is just four matches away from an unprecedented 10th French Open title. And with the kind of dangerous form he is in at the moment, it is obvious that it will take a herculean effort to bar him from lifting the La Coupe des Mousquetaires next Sunday.

Later in the day, on Phillipe Chatrier, defending champion Novak Djokovic had to play out five sets under the watchful eyes of his newly appointed coach Andre Agassi, to make his place in the last 16 of the tournament. The Serbian, who has had a not so good outing since his win at Paris last year, was up against a spirited Diego Schwartzman, not intimidated by the stature of his opponent and looking to pounce on every opening he gave him which was not less in number. Djokovic’s frustration at having being stretched the distance was palpable, only too much at times. However, even after the warnings  and the altercations the second seed managed to bring his A game out in the final two sets against a visibly tiring Schwartzman to eke out a 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory. His next adversary will be Spaniard  Albert Ramos-Vinolas who, likewise played a grueling five setter to overcome home favourite Frenchman Lucas Pouille at theSuzanne Lenglen.

GenNext representative, talented Dominic Thiem stayed afloat, with his 6-1, 7-6, 6-3 victory over American 25th seed Steve Johnson and will next face Horacio Zeballos in the 4th round. Zeballos’s opponent 10th seed Belgian Davis Goffin retired, while leading 5-4 in the first set after he sustained an ankle injury on court. On Court 1, P.Carreno Busta ousted 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov in 3 sets 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

On the women’s circuit defending champion and 4th seed Garbine Muguruza overcame Kazakh 27th seed Yulia Putintseva with a 7-5, 6-2 win. Although the first set was patchy for both players involving several breaks of serve, Muguruza played out a clinical second set to secure her place in the next round. She has a tough round of 16 opponent though in 13th Kristina Mladenovic who beat Shelby Rogers 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 in a determined display of tennis. Mladenovic came back from a break down in the third to take the deciding set 8-6 in a match that saw fluctuating fortunes like no other. Brimming with confidence from this victory she is bound to put up a good fight against the defending champion on Sunday.

In the last match on Phillepe Chatrier on Friday, 15 days shy of 37 years former world no. 1 Venus Williams notched up a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Elise Mertens, hardly breaking a sweat. At this age the elder Williams sibling looks in sublime form, being able to hit winners at will. She faces 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky on Sunday who she had lost to, previous year. However, a win would take her to the quarter finals, a first for her since 2006. Elsewhere, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur notched up contrasting wins to progress to the fourth round. As of now, the women’s draw is wide open with no clear favourites to take the title. An enthralling week ahead is on the cards as the players battle it out for the second Grand slam of the year.