Rafa Nadal continued his untroubled progress towards a seventh French Open title with a 6-1 6-3 6-4 defeat of Argentine qualifier Eduardo Schwank on Saturday to reach the last 16.
Second seed Nadal, who dropped only nine games in his first two rounds at Roland Garros, was never under threat from the big Argentine doubles specialist.
Schwank, ranked 192 in singles, enjoyed his time in the spotlight, milking the applause when he won a point on the Spaniard’s serve midway through the final set and raising his arms to encourage the fans to cheer him on.
Nadal, seeking his 11th grand slam title, finished off with a service winner to take the match in two hours 16 minutes.
Next up is a harder task against friend and frequent practice partner Juan Monaco, the 13th seed, after the Argentine beat Canadian Milos Raonic, seeded 19th.
“He’s one of the players I really like on the tour,” Nadal told a news conference. “I really get on well with him.
“We know each other very well, personally speaking, but also from the point of tennis. We spend a lot of hours together, we practise very often together so we both know what we’re going to try and do when we play together.
“We’ll try and be very aggressive, we’ll try and speed up and change gears, and we’ll see who’s going to win.”
First, though, Nadal will have his 26th birthday on Sunday, though he said he had nothing special planned beyond practice and his usual treatment.
“I will do as I usually do,” Nadal said. “Tomorrow is going to be a day like any other day.”