Nadal sets up last-16 clash with lowly Korda; Thiem, Halep advance as Wawrinka stunned - GulfToday

Nadal sets up last-16 clash with lowly Korda; Thiem, Halep advance as Wawrinka stunned

Nadal sweeps aside Millman as top seeds tumble out; Pliskova and Halep advance

Rafael Nadal

Paris: Rafael Nadal charged into the French Open last 16 on Friday with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 win over Italian world number 74 Stefano Travaglia.

The 12-time Roland Garros champion next faces American qualifier Sebastian Korda, ranked a lowly 213th, for a quarter-final spot.

Nadal has yet to drop a set in Paris this week and took a stride closer towards equalling Roger Federer’s record of 20 major titles.

Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda beat his Spanish opponent Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 and became the first qualifier to reach the men’s fourth round since Alejandro Falla in 2011.

“I think today I played the best match this year at Roland Garros,” said Nadal, now 96-2 at the French Open in his 16th appearance.

“I’m very happy with this victory and I hope to continue like this. I’m playing quite well and I played more aggressive than in previous days.”

Nadal’s combined ranking of his opponents so far is 606, including that of Korda who admitted to naming his cat after the Spaniard.

THIEM MOVES UP: Meanwhile, US Open champion Dominic Thiem advanced to the fourth round for the fifth consecutive time, with another straight-set victory in this week’s first encounter in Paris between seeded men.

The victim of the third-seeded Austrian’s fierce backhand and super-quick court coverage under the new roof on Court Philippe Chatrier was No. 28 Casper Ruud by 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

HALEP WINS: In the women’s draw, top-seeded Simona Halep defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-0, 6-1. The 19-year-old Anisimova beat the 2018 champion in straight sets in the quarterfinals last year.

Halep, a Romanian riding a career-best winning streak of 17 matches, will next face another rematch against another teenager: Iga Swiatek.

Halep also played her third-round match in the dry under the Chatrier roof to set up her rematch against the 19-year-old Swiatek.

In the fourth round last year, Halep routed Swiatek 6-1, 6-0, ending the Polish player’s Roland Garros debut.

Swiatek is a tougher prospect this time. She has lost only 13 games, not dropped a set and beat Canadian wild card Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 in the third round.

Swiatek hit 30 winners and converted six of her 13 break points against the 2014 Wimbledon finalist now ranked 168th.

Meanwhile, unlike the sonic boom that briefly startled players at Roland Garros earlier this week, Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska has flown under the radar on her first French Open appearance.

The 23-year-old Rosario native of Ukrainian ancestry became the first Argentine woman to reach the last 16 in Paris on Friday since Gisela Dulko in 2011.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Podoroska following her 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

The arena built for 15,000 rang out later in the day to shouts of “Bravo!” and “Merci!” and saw fans in face masks jumping up and down in waves as Caroline Garcia of France beat 16th-seeded Elise Mertens 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.

The 45th-ranked Garcia advanced to a fourth-round match against third-seeded Elina Svitolina, who beat the last of 12 Russians in the women’s draw, Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-4, 7-5.

GASTON STUNS WAWRINKA: French wildcard Hugo Gaston, ranked at 239 in the world, defeated 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in five sets to reach the Roland Garros last 16 on Friday.

The 20-year-old left-hander, the only home player still standing out of 18 who started in the men’s draw, will face third seed and US Open champion Dominic Thiem for a place in the quarter-finals.

Gaston, who won the rain-interrupted tie 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, was the second player ranked outside the top 200 to reach the last 16 on Friday after number 213-ranked Korda’s win over Martinez.

Agence France-Presse

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