Nadal races past Basilashvili
Originally published on 02/06/17 00:00
The ‘King of Clay’ thrashed his wicked forehand with unerring ease as he dominated his overwhelmed opponent from the first ball. It was an ominous display from the nine-time champion and his irresistible form shows no signs of abating.
Reflecting on his relentless display, Nadal said: “I think I played the best match in a while. It’s always important to be through, but when you have these positive feelings even more so.
“I know Basilashvili had been playing well, beating [Gilles] Simon and [Viktor] Troicki, always tough opponents. I went on court thinking it was going to be tough because he hits the ball so strong."
Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated Jiri Vesely 6-3 6-4 6-3, will be Nadal’s last 16 opponent on Sunday.
Unlike his great-rival, Djokovic had to survive a scare to maintain his interest in the competition. The world No.2 defeated Diego Schwartzman 5-7 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-1 in a gruelling contest.
It was a peculiar performance from Djokovic in the first three sets. His backhand was wayward and his dropshots misfired, however he was disciplined and efficient in the later stages. His Argentinian opponent battled gamely, but he was ultimately left with nothing to show for his endeavours.
“I was optimistic going into the match because of how I played in the previous two matches,” said the defending champion. “I was expecting a tough match still, and a lot of baseline rallies, because the conditions were slow and heavy.
"I want to congratulate Diego on battling so well, because he played great.”
Pablo Carreno Busta is into the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time. The Spaniard defeated No.11 seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 6-3 6-4 to record a landmark win.
It was the Bulgarian who made the brighter start and he stormed into a 4-0 first set lead however his advantage soon disappeared. Dimitrov struggled to recover from the disappointment and his backhand failed to hold up under intense scrutiny.
Milos Raonic is through via a retirement after Guillermo Garcia-Lopez quit with a thigh problem. "He [Garcia-Lopez] told me he had dealt with this in his first rounds,” remarked the Canadian when asked about the Spaniard’s injury. “He was happy to have gone through the first two matches but he could not bear it anymore. I take it when I can get it. I have played a lot in the last few weeks. I have made good progress and am getting better and better." The Canadian’s next opponent is Carreno Busta.
Elsewhere, David Goffin’s run at the French Open has come to unsatisfactory end. In the first set of his third round clash with Horacio Zeballos, the talented Belgian took a nasty tumble at the back of the court and twisted an ankle. He received lengthy treatment, but was unable to continue.
"He has had an MRI, and the news is reassuring,” remarked Goffin’s coach, Thierry Cleemput. “There is no tearing of the ligaments and no bone that's been broken either. That's the only thing we can say.”
Zeballos, who is into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, said: "I'm very sad for him, he's a great person. He always was really nice with me. I hope he can come back as soon as possible because I always enjoy when he's playing because he's a nice player.
“I don't know what to feel. Of course, I'm a little happy because it's my best tournament, but also I'm sad for him. Like I said before, he's a really nice person. So it's mixed emotions.”
Standing between Zeballos and a spot in the last eight is Dominic Thiem. The Austrian, who is yet to drop a set, defeated Steve Johnson 6-1 7-6(4) 6-3.
The final men's match of the day did not disappoint. Albert Ramos-Vinolas outlasted home favourite, Lucas Pouille, 6-2 3-6 5-7 6-2 6-1, to set up a fourth round clash with Djokovic.