Paris: Reigning champion Rafael Nadal bludgeoned his way into the French Open third round with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 defeat of outclassed Argentine Guido Pella on Thursday.
With rain showers forecast at Roland Garros the 31-year-old wasted no time on Court Suzanne Lenglen after saving four break points in the first game against the 78th-ranked Pella.
Once that early danger had been snuffed out Nadal offered up a masterclass against his fellow left-hander and his forehand was too hot for Pella to handle.
The Spanish World No 1 has now won his last 27 sets at Roland Garros, having captured a 10th title last year without dropping a set.
Next in the firing line for Nadal is Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
French number one Lucas Pouille put down a spirited comeback by unseeded Briton Cameron Norrie on Thursday to lead home hopes going into the third round at Roland Garros.
France has waited 35 years since Yannick Noah lifted the Musketeers Cup for one of its own to win the men’s championship at Roland Garros.
While that wait will almost certainly continue this year barring a major upset, Pouille leads a group dreaming the unlikely that includes Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils.
Pouille looked tight throughout the match, making 49 unforced errors and barely getting half his first serves in on his way to a 6-2, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(3) victory.
"I started much better today than yesterday and the first round, Pouille told a news conference. "It's still not perfect, but the more you move on in the tournament, the better you play. I hope that I'll play better tennis tomorrow."
He faces Russia's Karen Khachanov, ranked 38th in the world, on Friday.
Asked if playing the Norrie match over two days would disrupt his preparations, Pouille said: "Physically, it doesn't disrupt much. It's just ... your nerves, because you have extra tension (on a match day). The stress builds up."
Gasquet, seeded 27th, eased past Tunisia's Malek Jaziri 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, dominating with his first serve and leading his opponent into making 40 forced errors, more than double his own count.
Gasquet reached the third round for the eighth straight year. Next up is tournament favourite Nadal - and he harbours few illusions.
"Unless there is a disaster, he has a good chance of winning," Gasquet told reporters. "He's extraordinary. We all know he is."
In the women's tournament, wildcard Pauline Parmentier downed French compatriot and 32nd seed Alize Cornet in a three-hour marathon 6-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Parmentier too faces tough odds in the third round against number two seed Caroline Wozniacki, who dropped just one game against big-serving Spanish qualifier Georgina Garcia Perez.
Del Potro eases through
Argentinian fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro eased into the third round by ending the Roland Garros farewell of home favourite Julien Benneteau on Thursday.
Former US Open champion Del Potro will next play Spanish 31st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas for a last-16 spot after winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
It was the 36-year-old Benneteau's final French Open campaign before retirement, but he never threatened an upset against the big-hitting Del Potro.
With inputs from Reuters and AFP.
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Updated Date: May 31, 2018 23:22:46 IST