Rafael Nadal finally blinked dropping a single set today in a 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over David Goffin in the third round at the French Open Friday.
The 11-time champion was well in control the match against the Belgium until mid-way through the third when Goffin started to get some rhythm. He eventually broke and then held for the set to the roar of the crowd.
But an early break for Rafa in the fourth muted any upset bid on the 10-year anniversary of Robin Soderling’s incredible win.
“David is a great player,” said Nadal. “When he’s playing well, he’s a player that already showed to everybody that he can win against every player in this world… In the first set I played unbelievable, I think, so, so good. Then a good second set, too. In the fourth, of course I had to fight again, and I think I became a little bit more aggressive again, and that was, at the end, the key.”
Goffin falls to 0-4 against Nadal on clay.
“It was not easy at the beginning of the match, because I wasn’t used to the centre court,” said Goffin. “It was not easy because he’s playing so far back… I started to find some solution in second [set] on my service game because, after [the] first set, I knew that it was impossible to play each rally because he’s too solid. He covered the court so well. And so I had to play faster, but on the good one, on the good shot.”
Nadal, who is now 89-2 at the French, now meets surprise Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero. The 25-year-old Londero ousted French wild card Corentin Moutet 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in 3 hours, 28 minutes.
“He plays very well right now,” said Nadal. “I think it’s going to be a very difficult match, demanding, but I’m prepared to fight at a very high level.”
What a draw for Rafa.
As Rafa took the court, Roger Federer was in the process of wrapping up Casper Ruud on Lenglen. The 20-year-old Ruud, father of former Top 40 Christian Ruud, pushed Federer hard in the third set and in the breaker but not enough in a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(8) defeat. Federer has now made 14 French Open fourth rounds.
“I liked how he figured things out after going on a tough run there of nine games. The third set could have gone either way. He had chances early, then later, and then again after,” Federer said. “It was nice to see him hang in there. I thought the first set also was tough… I can see why he’s going to be good in the future. He’s got a great attitude, very calm, very quiet.
“The first goal has been reached by getting this deep into the tournament, and knowing where the game’s at, knowing where the fitness is, the mind.”
The match was also Federer’s record 400th at the Grand Slam level.
“It’s true I played many matches in Grand Slam tournaments, and it’s even more pleasant to do this in Roland Garros, because I have a lot of records, milestones from Wimbledon or the US Open,” Federer said. “But doing anything in Roland is very special, because I played a lot here. It was my first Grand Slam where I was in the main draw.”
Federer will get Leonardo Mayer next. The Argentine knocked out Nicolas Mahut in four sets to reach his first French Open fourth round.
Kei Nishikori, who could meet Nadal in the quarters, won the match of the day on the men’s side. The Japanese star came from a double-break down 3-0 in the fifth set to deny Laslo Djere 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 4-6, 8-6 to make the fourth round for a fifth straight year.
“I think he was playing great tennis. I mean, he almost had it. Nice to come back after 3-0 down, two breaks. It wasn’t easy, of course. He was playing on fire,” Nishikori said. “I had to wait for a small chance, and sometimes I took some risks and was able to break back. Feeling great after winning a good match.”
After the tough 4-hour, 26-minute loss, Djere said he had no regrets.
“No regrets because I did the right things on the court, I think. It hurts for sure, and I’m a bit disappointed,” Djere said. “It’s not a nice feeling to lose after such a long match that way. But yeah, I feel that I left everything out on the court, what I had. So at least that makes it easier.”
Nishikori will now face France’s Benoit Paire. Paire advanced when Pablo Carreno Busta retired down two sets to one with an adductor injury.
In a match finished from Thursday night, Martin Klizan dropped five straight games to Lucas Pouille upon resumption at 3-1 in the fourth. In the decider, Pouille failed to serve it out and the Slovak took advantage winning in five.
In the evening, Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov were suspended with the Swiss up two breakers. Also halted was Stefanos Tsitsipas who was up two sets and 5-all on Filip Krajinovic who served for the third.
On a big Saturday schedule, Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev headline play.
SATURDAY FRENCH OPEN
Court Philippe CHATRIER Début à 11h00
Simona HALEP (ROU)  contre Lesia TSURENKO (UKR)
Pas avant 12h00 (fin de partie 7/5 6/3 5/5)
Stefanos TSITSIPAS (GRE)  contre Filip KRAJINOVIC (SRB)
Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB)  contre Salvatore CARUSO (ITA)
Antoine HOANG (FRA) contre Gael MONFILS (FRA)
Serena WILLIAMS (USA) contre Sofia KENIN (USA)
Court Suzanne LENGLEN Début à 11h00
Fabio FOGNINI (ITA)  contre Roberto BAUTISTA AGUT (ESP) 
Naomi OSAKA (JPN)  contre Katerina SINIAKOVA (CZE)
Dominic THIEM (AUT) contre Pablo CUEVAS (URU)
Andrea PETKOVIC (GER) contre Ashleigh BARTY (AUS) 
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