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French Open: Federer, Wawrinka ease into last 16

Paris: Swiss pair Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka both eased into the last 16 of the French Open on Friday as hopes of a first home winner in 32 years were boosted.

Second-seeded Federer, whose sole title win in Paris came in 2009, reached the fourth round for the 11th straight year with a straightforward 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

left:  Roger Federer returns to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur during their third round match at Roland Garros yesterday
Roger Federer returns to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur during their third round match at Roland Garros yesterday

That set up a potential blockbuster against Gael Monfils, conditional on the French showman seeing off Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in a third round tie later Friday. Already set in the same quarter of the draw at the last 16 stage is another Franco-Swiss encounter opposing Wawrinka and Gilles Simon.

Former Australian Open champion Wawrinka blasted past American Steve Johnson, while Simon saw off a tough challenge from fellow Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-1. The French will be out for some semblance of revenge on Federer and Wawrinka who combined to inflict a painful defeat on France in the Davis Cup final in Lille last November. "He's played me tough throughout my career, I thought. Especially the last four, five years now.

He's been tougher for me to play against," said Federer of a potential matchup against Monfils. "We have played against each other here (Roland Garros) on a few occasions as well. Semis, quarters, some of my big years here. So clearly I'd love to play against him." Earlier in the day Richard Gasquet made it seven French players into the third round of the tournament stirring hopes of a realistic home title challenge.

That number equalled the second best showing for French players at the last 32 stage in Paris in the Open-era (since 1968), beaten only by the eight men who made it that far in 1971. Gasquet, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and world top tenner, finally saw off the challenge of Argentine claycourter Carlos Berlocq 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 after the match had been suspended overnight at two sets all. His reward is a third round tie against South African Kevin Anderson.

"Yeah, we are a lot in the third round. I saw maybe six or seven. It's a lot," Gasquet said of the French charge. "It's not the record. The record was eight. So, yeah, it's very good for French tennis. It's a good start for us. But I think we can go farther in the draw."

Also through to the third round in the top half of the draw is Jeremy Chardy, who takes on Belgium's David Goffin on Saturday, while five other French hopes were in action in the bottom half of the draw on Friday. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a semi-finalist for France at Roland Garros in 2013, was scheduled last on the Philippe Chatrier Centre Court taking on Spain's Pablo Andujar. Finally Benoit Paire had a tough task going up against fourth seed Tomas Berdych.

The last home winner of the men's singles at the French Open, and of any Grand Slam tournament, was Yannick Noah in 1983 with Henri Leconte the last to reach the final in 1988 where he lost to Mats Wilander.

Since then Leconte in 1992, Cedric Pioline (1998), Sebastien Grosjean (2001), Monfils (2008) and Tsonga (2013) all fell at the semi-final stage. Also into the last 16 -- for the second time in his career - was Georgian-born Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili who was too good for Czech player Lukas Rosol, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. He will next play Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori, who moved through when third round opponent Benjamin Becker withdrew from the tournament with a shoulder injury.

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