Rafael Nadal, who turns 26 on Saturday, tightened a Spanish stranglehold on the bottom half of the French Open draw on Saturday. The top seed coasted into the fourth round with a lop-sided 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over qualifier Eduardo Schwank of Argentina.
Earlier, sixth-seeded David Ferrer flattened Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in just 101 minutes, whilst 12th seed Nicolas Almagro saw off the challenge of Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
With Marcel Granollers in action against French wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu, there was the distinct possibility that half of the qualifiers for the last 16 in the bottom half of the draw could come from Spain. In contrast, there were no Spaniards through into the last 16 in the top half of the draw.
Brit Andy Murray set up a last 16 round clash with Richard Gasquet. Murray looked to be over the lower back problems that beset him in the previous round as he defeated Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
In the women’s event, Maria Sharapova stormed into the last 16, brushing aside China’s Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-1, while semi-final rivals Li Na and Petra Kvitova laboured to reach the second week.
Second seed Sharapova fired 27 winners past 28th seed Peng in a 66-minute Philippe Chatrier court demolition. She will next face Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova who put out Russian 22nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-5.
Li Na triumphs
Defending champion Li Na, the seventh seed, battled back to defeat America's Christina McHale 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
The 30-year-old Li had to draw upon her 10-year age gap to prevail over the 36th-ranked American, who had fallen in the first round in 2010 and 2011.
Wimbledon champion Kvitova, 22, reached the last 16 for the third time but she did it the hard way, serving up eight double faults and committing 37 unforced errors in her 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Russian world number 109 Nina Bratchikova.