RAFAEL Nadal has added further lustre to a phenomenal claycourt record, surging closer to a 10th French Open crown with victory in his 100th five-set claycourt match.
Improving his overall Roland Garros record to 75-2, Nadal’s 6-0 6-1 6-0 thumping of Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili delivered his 98th scalp rom 100 claycourt matches in a best-of-five format.
Already the owner of most claycourt titles in history with 52 apart from Chris Evert (66), Nadal has failed only twice at Roland Garros — in 2009 and 2015.
Forced out of the tournament after the third round last year, Nadal is bidding to become the first player in the Open era to win 10 majors at the same event.
And, despite a threatening thunderstorm which swirled around Roland Garros, the Spaniard is clearly on track to achieve the feat.
He will next play compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut, who thumped Czech Jiri Vesely 6-3 6-4 6-3.
Injury cut a devastating swath through the French Open, forcing Belgian star David Goffin and Spain’s Guillermo Garcia Lopez to bow out prematurely.
Goffin wrenched his ankle in a sickening incident after scrambling to hit a lobbed backhand winner, only to land heavily on tarpaulins at the back of the court.
The 10th seed lay on his back for several minutes before a trainer arrived and it was obvious last season’s quarter-finalist could not continue.
Garcia-Lopez has retired with a thigh strain when trailing Canadian powerhouse Milos Raonic 6-1 1-0.
Raonic will next play Pablo Carreno Busta after the Spaniard shocked flaky Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 6-3 6-4 to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time.