French Open: Rafael Nadal eases into Last 16 as Maria Sharapova sets up crunch clash with Serena Williams

Rafael Nadal stayed right on track for an 11th French Open title as he went 16-0 against Frenchman, Richard Gasquet with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory to reach the Last 16 in Paris.

“I played very well,” Nadal said. “I’m sorry for Richard, he is a good friend and a good person.”

Nadal, who’s yet to drop a set, will next play unseeded German Maximilian Marterer, who beat Estonia’s Jurgen Zopp 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.

The home supporters continued to endure an unpleasant day as other French hopefuls failed to advance to the next round.

French number one, Lucas Pouille, resumed his third round match against Russia’s Karen Khachanov trailing by two sets before the Russian completed a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 win.

Also, Gael Monfils squandered four match points in the fourth set against David Goffin, as the Belgian secured a 6-7, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory to advance to the fourth round where he will play Italy’s Marco Cecchinato.

Elsewhere, fifth-seeded Argentine, Juan Martin del Potro sealed a Last 16 berth at the French Open for the first time in six years, with a 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Third seed, Marin Cilic also, advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3 6-2 6-4 over American Steve Johnson in an hour and 34 minutes.

The Croat will face Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who knocked out British number one Kyle Edmund 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 in what was a gripping encounter.

South African sixth seed Kevin Anderson defeated Germany’s Mischa Zverev 6-1 6-7 6-3 7-6 to set up a fourth round clash with Diego Schwartzman, who beat Croatia’s Borna Coric 7-5 6-3 6-3.

In the women’s draw, two-time French Open champion, Maria Sharapova breezed past sixth seed, Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1 to set up a blockbuster showdown with Serena Williams in the fourth round- a match the Russian is looking forward to.

“Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best player,” Sharapova said.

Williams, 36, defeated Germany’s Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-4 to continue her impressive run on the Parisian dirt.

Against Sharapova, Williams has won 19 of their 21 previous meetings on tour – both of Sharapova’s wins coming back in 2004.

Meanwhile, world number one Simona Halep stayed on track for a maiden Grand Slam title with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Andrea Petkovic, while Angelique Kerber edged Kiki Berten 7-6(4), 7-6(4).

In an earlier match, Garbine Muguruza thrashed 2010 finalist, Samantha Stosur 6-0, 6-2, while Anett Kontaveit stunned Petra Kvitova 7-6(6), 7-6.

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