French Open: Nadal breezes to 4th round with dominant performance

Defending champion Rafael Nadal has advanced to the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win against Richard Gasquet, improving to 16-0 against the Frenchman. Two-time champion Maria Sharapova also reached the final 16.

Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski wins 2nd-round doubles match, Marian Sharapova reaches final 16

Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a backhand during his third-round match against Richard Gasquet of France at the French Open in Paris on Saturday. Nadal advanced with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Defending champion Rafael Nadal easily beat Richard Gasquet once again, reaching the fourth round of the French Open with a crushing 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win on Saturday.

Nadal is gaining momentum in his bid for a record-extending 11th title at Roland Garros, and Gasquet never looked remotely like stopping him.

He rarely has.

The top-ranked Spaniard inflicted a 16th defeat on Gasquet, who has lost every encounter dating back to 2004.

"He's someone I really appreciate," said Nadal, who has been friends with Gasquet since their junior days. "I'm just sorry that he had to play me again here, but that's the sport."

The 27th-seeded Frenchman has not even taken a set off Nadal in 11 straight matches, including this latest one-sided affair. It makes gloomy reading for Gasquet, who quickly trailed 5-0 in sunny conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Chasing 17th Grand Slam title

With clubbing forehands, Nadal streaked ahead 4-0 in the second set and did the same in the third, before Gasquet finally held serve after a long fifth game. A rare highlight for Gasquet was when he earned applause from Nadal following a superb cushioned volley at the net.

Nadal clinched victory on his first match point when Gasquet chopped an errant backhand long. Moments after hugging Gasquet sympathetically, Nadal was all smiles as he exchanged a couple of rallies with a ball boy to warm applause from the crowd.

Nadal is chasing a men's singles 17th Grand Slam title — only Roger Federer has more with 20 — and next faces the unseeded German Maximilian Marterer in their first career meeting.

Nadal is wary of Marterer, who earlier won 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 against Jurgen Zopp.

"He hits the ball with big topspin," Nadal said. "He has power, so he's a dangerous opponent."

Canada's Dabrowski on a roll in doubles

Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski earned a pair of victories Saturday at the French Open.

She teamed with China's Yifan Xu for a 6-2, 6-2 win in second-round women's doubles play and also completed a 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 first-round mixed doubles victory with Croatia's Mate Pavic in a match that had been suspended a day earlier due to rain.

Dabrowski and Xu, the No. 5 seeds, needed just 63 minutes to complete their win over American Kaitlyn Christian and Germany's Carina Witthoeft.

They will next play the Japanese duo of Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya in the third round.

Dabrowski's mixed doubles opener against Pauline Parmentier and Gregoire Barrere was stopped Friday with the French duo trailing 1-4 after taking the opening set.

Only four games were needed Saturday before the top-seeded Dabrowski and Pavic took the match tiebreaker to advance.

Dabrowski, from Ottawa, and Pavic will face Andrea Sestini Hlavackova of the Czech Republic and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France in the second round.

Dabrowski won the mixed doubles title in Paris last year with India's Rohan Bopanna. She also won the Australian Open mixed title this year with Pavic.

Top seed Halep moves on

Simona Halep has advanced to the fourth round for the third straight year, beating Andrea Petkovic of Germany 7-5, 6-0.

The top-seeded Romanian has never lost to Petkovic, and four of her seven wins have been on clay. Petkovic needed treatment to her right leg and had it bandaged above and below the knee.

Halep has twice lost in the final at Roland Garros, including last year. She next plays 16th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium. Mertens won 6-3, 6-1 against No. 24 Daria Gavrilova.

Sharapova, Williams showdown in Round 4

Serena Williams produced the best performance of her Grand Slam comeback to beat 11th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-3, 6-4 and reach the fourth round.

Next up for Williams as she competes in a major tournament for the first time in 16 months — and since giving birth in September — will be a familiar foe: Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova, Williams, Simona Halep, Gabrine Muguruza and Rafael Nadal all won in straight sets Saturday to advance to the 4th round of the 2018 French Open. 2:09

The 36-year-old Williams set up that showdown with a clean-hitting tour de force against Goerges.

Williams made only three unforced errors in the opening set, 12 in all. She won 12 consecutive points on her serve in one stretch.

The most-anticipated matchup for a quarter-final spot at Roland Garros pits 23-time major champion Williams against five-time major champion Sharapova, who has won two of her five majors at Roland Garros. The head-to-head history is overwhelmingly in Williams's favour: She has won 19 of 21 meetings, including 18 in a row.

Quick work

Former champion Sharapova reached the fourth round with a dominant 6-2, 6-1 win against Karolina Pliskova.

The 31-year-old Russian, seeded 28th after missing this tournament the last two years, needed 59 minutes to win on Court Philippe Chatrier. She broke serve five times against the sixth-seeded Czech.

Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates winning her their third round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-2, 6-1, at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on Saturday. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

Third-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, also impressed on the main court. She needed just over one hour to beat Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-0, 6-2.​

Upsets continue

Sloane Stephens also advanced to the fourth round, but the 10th-seeded American had a much more difficult time beating Italy's Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 8-6. Stephens next faces Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who won 7-6 (8), 7-6 (4) against No. 8-seeded Petra Kvitova.

There was another upset as unseeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko defeated 19th-seeded Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-4.

No. 3 Marin Cilic wins in straight sets

Marin Cilic has moved into the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the 20th time, eliminating Steve Johnson of the U.S. 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Cilic won all 14 of his service games, broke Johnson four times and built a 35-14 edge in total winners.

The No. 3-seeded Croat won the 2014 U.S. Open and has reached the final at two of the past three majors — Wimbledon last year and the Australian Open in January. He will face No. 18 Fabio Fognini next.

Johnson, ranked 46th, has never been to the round of 16 at Roland Garros.

In other men's action:

  • Unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov completed a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win against 15th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France. Their match was suspended for rain late Friday.
  • Fabio Fognini beat Kyle Edmund 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, while Maximilian Marterer won 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 against Jurgen Zopp.

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