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 a crop of rising youngsters offered tantalising glimpses of their potential.
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.
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"I think today I played the best match this year at Roland Garros," said Nadal.
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.
"He's my biggest idol. He's one of the reasons I play tennis," Korda said of the Spaniard.
"Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him. That says a lot about how much I love the guy."
Nadal’s assessment of his victory over Travaglia went down well with fans, who mostly agreed it was one of the Spaniard’s most dominant displays to date on the Roland Garros clay.
Super dominant, comfortable & convincing win for the #KingofClay #Nadal 6-1 6-4 6-0 (the second set was competitive, that's abt it!) vs Travaglia 👌 Fine Friday night tennis action!#Rafa owns this centre court 👑! Into Round4 now.. #VamosRafa 👍👍#RolandGarros #FrenchOpen2020— Kaushik LM (@LMKMovieManiac) October 2, 2020
This Nadal-Travaglia looks to be shaping up to be completely uncompetitive.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) October 2, 2020
Should Tennis Channel keep airing it when other more compelling matches are on?#RG
23 minutes first set, losing just 6 points. That's savage. #Nadal— Rilès (@AlgerianNavy) October 2, 2020
Young guns cause upsets as French Open heats up
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, also 20, 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 goes on to play US Open winner and Austrian third seed Dominic Thiem, the runner-up to Nadal in Paris the past two years.
"It's amazing for me, it's a dream. But I try to stay focused," said Gaston, the lone Frenchman remaining in the draw. "I'm feeling tired with the adrenaline rush but I still have some gas."
"I'm not going to put pressure on myself and will try to play relaxed like I did today," he added.
At 19, Italian teenager Jannik Sinner is the youngest player to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Novak Djokovic in 2006.
Last year's Next Gen champion made the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time by beating Federico Coria 6-3, 7-5, 7-5.
He will meet the US Open runner-up Alexander Zverev after the German sixth seed ended the run of qualifier and 2018 semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato in three sets.
"I'm just trying to improve day after day," said the 75th-ranked Sinner, who is yet to drop a set in Paris.
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