Rafael Nadal may have 11 French Open titles, but Roger Federer was more efficient in reaching the second week at Roland Garros.
Federer, playing the clay-court Grand Slam for the first time since 2015, swept Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (8) to reach the round of 16 without dropping a set in three matches.
Ruud’s father and coach, Christian, played in the 1999 French Open, which was Federer’s first Grand Slam. Federer’s match Friday was his 400th at a Grand Slam, extending his record for men or women.
“A few months ago I didn’t know what to expect with anything, really,” said the 37-year-old Federer, who didn’t play any clay events in 2017 and 2018. “At this point, now I know where my level’s at. I still don’t know exactly where my absolute best is, you know, but I feel like it could be there.”
Nadal still looks like a favorite for a 12th crown in Paris, but No. 27 David Goffin became the first man to take a set off him in the first week of a French Open since 2013. The trouble was short-lived as Nadal advanced 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
“It happens. David is a great player,” Nadal said after his streak ended at 56 sets won in the first three rounds at the French. “I played against a top player that had injuries, and he’s a little bit lower in the ranking now, but when he’s playing well, he’s a player that already showed to everybody that he can win against every player in this world.”
Nadal was playing on Court Philippe Chatrier on the 10th anniversary of one of his only two losses at this event. Swede Robin Soderling upset Nadal that day, paving the way for Federer to bag his one and only French Open title.
Federer and Nadal last met at the October 2017 Shanghai Masters, with Federer winning for the fifth straight time in the rivalry to move to 15-23 against Nadal. Nadal has won all five of their French Open matchups, including finals in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011, the last meeting.
Federer next plays 68th-ranked Argentine Leonardo Mayer, but the difficulty should really ratchet up in a possible quarterfinal. No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov are in the Federer quarter.
Nadal gets 78th-ranked Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero in the fourth round.
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