Paris: Rafael Nadal charged into the French Open last 16 on Friday and took another confident stride towards equalling Roger Federer’s record of 20 major titles while Simona Halep and Dominic Thiem made surprisingly short work of tricky opponents.
The 12-time Roland Garros champion dispatched Italian world number 74 Stefano Travaglia 6-1, 6-4, 6-0 in just 95 minutes, notching his 96th victory at the tournament.
Nadal next faces 213th-ranked American qualifier Sebastian Korda, the son of 1998 Australian Open champion and 1992 French Open runner-up Petr Korda, for a quarter-final spot.
The 20-year-old Korda beat Pedro Martinez in straight sets to become the first man outside the top 200 to make the last 16 in Paris since France’s Arnaud di Pasquale in 2002.
Hugo Gaston, the lone Frenchman left in the draw, quickly became the second such lowly-ranked man in the fourth round when the world number 239 shocked 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 in a rain-interrupted tie.
Gaston, 20, next faces Austrian third seed Dominic Thiem, the runner-up to Nadal in Paris the past two years, who broke down early resistance from Norway’s Casper Ruud to secure an impressive 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 victory.
Women’s top seed and title favourite Halep, the 2018 champion, avenged last year’s Roland Garros loss to Amanda Anisimova by thrashing the American teenager 6-0, 6-1 in only 54 minutes.
Halep meets another 19-year-old opponent, Poland’s Iga Swiatek, for a place in the quarter-finals. She dropped just one game when the pair met here in the last 16 a year ago.