No worries for Nadal as Goffin edges Monfils marathon
Rafael Nadal eased into the last 16 of the French Open on Saturday, where he was joined by the likes of Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro.
The 10-time champion maintained his perfect record against Richard Gasquet, making it 16 wins from 16 matches against the Frenchman in setting up a fourth-round clash with Maximilian Marterer with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 triumph.
Third seed Cilic also advanced in straight sets, overcoming Steve Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-4, while Del Potro got the better of Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5 6-4 6-1.
David Goffin edged out Gael Monfils at the end of a five-set thriller, and John Isner's 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) success over Pierre-Hugues Herbert means there will be no home representation in the last 16 of the men's draw.
POUILLE PONDERS HIS ATTITUDE
One of four Frenchman to be eliminated on Saturday, Lucas Pouille went down 6-3 7-5 6-3 to Karen Khachanov and afterwards was at a loss to explain what went wrong despite a strong preparation on the clay courts.
"Offhand now, I wouldn't be able to give you an accurate answer," he said. "We'll have to discuss it. I think there were times at which I didn't have the right attitude, the usual attitude.
"I was annoyed and I made mistakes. I did the wrong choices. Just the opposite of what I usually do, and this obviously didn't help me. But I can't put into question the fact that I decided to train as best possible for the clay courts to face the season, and if I had to do it again, I'd do it."
NADAL ENCOURAGING IN THE FACE OF HOME DISAPPOINTMENT
With Pouille, Gasquet, Herbert and Monfils all tumbling out on Saturday, Nadal was asked to explain the lack of a French presence in the final stages. The defending champion was quick to see the bigger picture, and pointed to Caroline Garcia's progression to the last 16 in the women's singles.
"That's the sport, you know. Sometimes things go better; sometimes the things go worse," he said. "I saw that Caroline Garcia is winning, so she's playing well. Let's see what's going on with the females, no, the women?
"But that's how the sport works, and you cannot be very negative about that, because your country is the country that probably has more players in the top 100, so that means that the work of the country on this aspect is great.
"Then [there] remains just a little bit more to win a grand slam. But the right work is there, and that's work of every day to keep looking and fighting to win one day here, one French player."
CILIC READY FOR FOGNINI CHALLENGE
While waiting to take to the court against Johnson, Cilic was able to do a little scouting of his fourth-round opponent Fabio Fognini, who outlasted Kyle Edmund over five sets, 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4.
"Yeah, obviously Fabi is amazing player on clay," Cilic said. "We have seen during the years so many matches of him where he played great tennis, and again today, he has amazing battle with Kyle.
"I watched that in the sofa in the locker room for several hours as my court was going quite slow, and they had a big battle. So definitely it's going to be a big challenge, as well, for me to play him. He's one of the clay court specialists that we have on the tour. He likes also to play here.
"He likes the conditions. You know, I just hope that I'm going to be with my performance on a high level to serve as good as I served today. So we will see. I hope that I'm going to be playing really well."
GOFFIN BACK FROM THE BRINK
The Fognini-Edmund epic was one of two encounters to go five sets on Saturday, as Goffin came through 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 4-6 7-5 6-3 against Monfils, rescuing four match points in game 10 of the fourth set.
"I try to play it [match point] as if it were any shot, any normal point," Goffin said. "I knew that I was playing well at the end of the fourth, and it was very close. I could come back.
"And I thought that if I really hung in, I can manage to turn this situation around at five-all. And I tried to save all the match points with courage, giving it my all, and I got it. I got through. And I thought if it didn't get through, well, it will happen the next time."