Rafa Nadal hammered Dutch 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4 in the French Open third round on Friday to remain on course for a potential mouth-watering showdown against world number one Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.
Fifth seed Nadal has won a record 13 Roland Garros titles and 21 majors but the Spaniard was denied last year when he went down in the semi-finals to eventual champion Djokovic.
Around the same time on nearby Court Philippe Chatrier, the Serbian also put on a prolific display to book his spot in the fourth round with a 6-3 6-3 6-2 win over Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene to stay in the hunt for a record-equaling 21st Grand Slam.
While top seed Djokovic will next meet Argentine Diego Schwartzman, Nadal faces Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime before their potential clash in the last eight.
“He’s one of the players in better shape on the tour, without a doubt,” Nadal said of Schwartzman, who is working with the Spaniard’s long-time former coach and uncle Toni.
“It’s a round of 16. I know I have to play at a very high level to have chances to keep going. It’s going to be a good test. In some way, that’s what I need.
“Today has been a very good test too and a very positive test because I was able to play my best match of the tournament so far, without any doubt. For two sets and a half, I was playing at a very positive level.”