PARIS, June 6 (Xinhua) — Defending champion Rafael Nadal reached another milestone at Roland Garros on Saturday, as the 13-time French Open champion claimed his 103rd match win in Paris to beat Roger Federer’s record of 102 wins in the Australian Open, setting a new win record in a single Grand Slam tournament.
The 13-time Roland Garros champion defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to set up a round-of-16 match against Italy’s 18th seed Jannik Sinner.
Nadal had already played Norrie twice this season without dropping a set, and his victory in Paris improved his head-to-head record with Norrie to 3-0.
“Today I had in front a player who is having a great season. I went on court knowing that could be a tough match, and for moments it was like this. I’m happy to win in straight sets,” said the 35-year-old, who converted six of his 12 break points to close out the victory.
The Spaniard has now won 32 consecutive sets at the clay-court major, dating back to the second set of his 2019 final victory against Dominic Thiem.
Novak Djokovic was another man who made history on Saturday, as the top seed needed only one hour and 32 minutes to breeze past Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 to reach the last 16 in Paris for a record 12th consecutive year – breaking a tie with archrivals Nadal and Roger Federer.
Next up for the Serbian is 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, who came through a five-setter against compatriot Marco Cecchinato earlier in the day. The pair have never met before on the Tour, but Djokovic spoke highly of the teenager.
“We did practise this season on this surface, a couple of times in Monte Carlo, and other tournaments. I really like how he plays,” the world No.1 said of Musetti. “He’s got a lot of firepower from both forehand and backhand. He can play with a lot of spins. He’s got great feel [and] comes to the net.”
“He is a big challenge to me. So there is no question I have to go out playing at a high level, because he will not have much to lose,” the 34-year-old added.
In contrast to the easy wins for Nadal and Djokovic, Roger Federer had a tough battle late in the night as the eighth seed had to play three tiebreaks to dispatch Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 7-5 to secure a spot in the last 16.
“I wasn’t sure after the second set how much was left in the tank, so, you know, it was a good battle until then,” said the Swiss, who turns 40 in August. “I thought this win was very important for me. I clearly hadn’t practised three hours 35 (minutes), because that’s obviously always pushing it. I pushed as much as I could, as we thought reasonable. But this today was I think a huge step forward for the team, and for all of us.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion sealed the victory after three hours and 35 minutes when the clock approached 1am local time.
Federer will play Italian ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the next round. The Madrid runner-up hit 52 winners in his 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-4 victory over South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time.
In the women’s draw, Elina Svitolina became the seventh top-seed to see her campaign end in the opening week, as the Ukrainian fifth seed was outclassed 6-3, 6-2 by Czech player Barbora Krejcikova.
Reigning champion Iga Swiatek overcame a break in the opening set to see off Anett Kontaveit 7-6(4), 6-0 to stay on track to defend her title.
Eighth seed Swiatek, fourth seed Sofia Kenin and seventh seed Serena Williams are the only three survivors of the women’s high-ranked seeds.
“I’m really happy that I’m playing consistently and I’m just trying to approach every match the same way, as I did last year,” said Swiatek, who arrived in Paris with a title-winning victory in Rome.
The 20-year-old, who plays Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in the fourth round, has now won 20 successive sets at Roland Garros.
“Many players struggle after coming back, after winning a Grand Slam, so I’m really happy that I’m able to handle it,” added the Pole.
Last year’s runner-up Kenin, the highest remaining seed, rallied from one set down to beat fellow American Jessica Pagula 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.