Claycourt king Rafael Nadal overcame a wobbly start to subdue Italian teenager Jannik Sinner 7-5 6-3 6-0 on Monday and book a place in the French Open quarter-finals.
The Spanish defending champion, looking to claim a record-extending 14th Roland Garros singles title and become the only man to win 21 Grand Slam singles crowns, has won 35 consecutive sets in Paris.
World number 19 Sinner, who at 19 years-old has been labelled as the next big thing in tennis, hit a brick wall on court Philippe Chatrier after leading 5-3 in the opening set.
Third seed Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman for a place in the semi-finals after beating the Argentine in the last four in the previous edition of the tournament.
Facing the ultimate challenge on clay, Sinner struggled to get into the groove before cancelling out an early break as Nadal experienced problems with his first serve.
Sinner, who lost to the claycourt master in the quarter-finals here last year, found himself up a break after two Nadal double faults and a few uncharacteristic errors.
Serving for the set, however, Sinner lost the game to love and Nadal levelled at 5-5 on his opponent’s 25th unforced error before breaking to love again to seal the opening set.
After losing eight games in a row, Sinner stopped the rot with a break, clinching it after rushing to the net to retrieve a drop shot and delivering a stunning crosscourt passing shot.
Nadal quickly recovered to break again, however, and he served out to take a two-set lead before securing his 104th match win at Roland Garros.
The Spaniard has not lost at the Paris Grand Slam tournament since 2015 when he was knocked out in the last eight by Novak Djokovic, his potential semi-final opponent.
Women’s defending champion Iga Swiatek, who held off a fierce challenge from Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk to reach the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 victory.
The eighth-seeded Pole has now won 22 consecutive sets at Roland Garros going into her clash with Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari as she bids to become the first woman to retain the Roland Garros title since Justine Henin in 2007.
Greek Maria Sakkari bundled American fourth seed Sofia Kenin out of the French Open on Monday with a 6-1 6-3 thrashing to reach her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.
Sakkari, 25, had lost her two previous fourth-round appearances in Grand Slams and came into Monday’s clash having lost twice in majors to 2020 Australian Open winner Kenin.
But the Greek, who won their last meeting in Abu Dhabi this year, raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening set as Kenin, the highest women’s seed left in the tournament, served two double faults in each of her two service games.