Nadal cruise, Ferrer warning
Defending champion Rafael Nadal has plenty to celebrate after sailing through the first week of the French Open.
Nadal's record on the Paris clay is, of course, remarkable, but rarely has he had such untroubled progress as this time, which continued this evening when he defeated Eduardo Schwank 6-1 6-3 6-4.
The Spaniard turns 26 on Sunday and, although he insists it is business as usual, it is sure to be marked in some way.
Nadal said: "The time has not yet come for me to celebrate. I'd like to focus for the round of 16, and I'll practise, as usual. I will have my treatment, as usual.
"I don't know if there's going to be something special, which is always the case here at Roland Garros. I'm always very happy, because something has always been prepared for me, a cake or a very quick celebration. If this is the case, I'll be very happy."
Nadal has spoken openly about how much more relaxed and happy he is this year compared to 2011, when he nevertheless won a sixth Roland Garros title.
It was evident in his performance today, full of exuberant forehands, and far too good for Schwank.
Nadal next meets his good friend and 13th seed Juan Monaco, who ended the run of big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic in a five-set tussle, the Argentinian coming through 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 6-4.
"He's one of the players I really like on the tour," said Nadal. "I really get on well with him. We know each other very well, personally speaking, but also from the point of tennis. We spend a lot of hours together. We practise very often together.
"So we both know what we're going to try and do when we play together. We'll try and be very aggressive. We'll try and speed up and change gears. And we'll see who's going to win."
David Ferrer sent a message to the top four that he could be a real threat with a third-round demolition of Mikhail Youzhny.
The sixth seed is one of the best in the world on clay, but he still flies very much under the radar in relation to the likes of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Ferrer, who won 6-0 6-2 6-2 on Saturday, is seeded to meet Andy Murray in the quarter-finals, and he has won all three of his meetings on clay with the world number four.
That is a few days away, but the Scot's camp will not have been encouraged by the ease with which Ferrer disposed of Youzhny, the 27th seed and a talented player.
It was not until the ninth game that the Russian finally got on the board - indeed, he had not won a point in the previous five games - and he celebrated by carving the word 'sorry' in the clay with his foot.
Home favourite Richard Gasquet was also in impressive form as he fought back from a set down in emphatic fashion to beat veteran German Tommy Haas 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 6-0 6-0, winning 14 games in a row.
The 25-year-old, who next meets Murray, said: "I knew that he had not played long matches in a while. There were quite a lot of people out there, so I really wanted to win this match to give everything I could.
"It was a beautiful match, and I played really well during the third and fourth sets."
Eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Almagro, seeded 12, will meet in the fourth round after both had comfortable wins today.
Spaniard Almagro is a real clay-court specialist, and he was far too good for Leonardo Mayer, winning 6-4 6-1 6-2, while Tipsarevic saw off Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3 7-5 6-4.
Benneteau far exceeded expectations by playing in the French Open at all after fracturing his elbow in a match against Murray in Monte Carlo six weeks ago.
Tipsarevic was making his first appearance on Court Philippe Chatrier, and he said: "I was a little bit lost at the beginning because all the courts here at Roland Garros are generally really narrow and small.
"Philippe Chatrier, it was my first time playing on that court, and it's just huge, a huge court, and it's not easy to get used to.
"But I was focused, and I was fighting from the first point on for every point until the end of the match. That's the main reason why I managed to finish in straight sets."
It was the end of the road, though, for Thursday's hero Paul-Henri Mathieu, who fought back from two sets to love down against 20th seed Marcel Granollers before going down 6-4 6-4 1-6 4-6 6-1.
Mathieu, who missed all of last season after knee surgery, had beaten John Isner in a five hour and 41 minute epic two days ago that went to 18-16 in the fifth set.