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French Open: Nadal motors on; Venus, Muguruza crash out

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves during his fourth round match against Roberto Bautista. Photograph: (AFP)

AFP Paris, France Jun 04, 2017, 01.35 PM (IST)

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal surged into the French Open quarter-finals for a record-equalling 11th time on Sunday, while reigning women's title-holder Garbine Muguruza crashed out in the last 16.

Nadal continued his ruthless form at Roland Garros by dispatching Spanish 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to match Roger Federer's mark of last-eight appearances in Paris. 

The 14-time major winner is yet to drop a set, conceding just six games in the last two rounds as he strives to become the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam. 

"I'm happy because Roberto is a very good player. It's very important for me to be in the quarter-finals one more time," said Nadal, who turned 31 on Saturday.

"Probably I didn't play as well as I did the other day, but I still played well."

The fourth seed will meet compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, through to his first Slam quarter-final, for spot in the last four after the latter stunned Canada's Milos Raonic.

Carreno Busta, seeded 20th, needed seven match points to clinch a thrilling 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 8-6 win over the fifth-seeded Raonic in four hours and 17 minutes.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic will also become an 11-time quarter-finalist in Paris if he defeats Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas later Sunday.

Japan's Kei Nishikori fought off a fierce five-set challenge from rising South Korean talent Hyeon Chung to clinch a place in the last 16.

Eighth seed Nishikori led two sets to one but trailed by a double break at 3-0 down in the fourth set when rain halted play on Saturday.

Chung forced the contest into a deciding set as play resumed on Sunday, but the world number 67 double faulted on match point to gift Nishikori a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 0-6, 6-4 victory.

"I think the rain helps me a lot, because I was really down in the fourth set and mentally I wasn't ready," admitted Nishikori.

"I knew I had to change something to beat him today, so I think I made some adjustments to make little better than yesterday."

'Second chance' 

It was the first third-round meeting between two Asian players at Roland Garros, with 2014 US Open finalist Nishikori going on to play Fernando Verdasco for a place in the quarter-finals.

Karen Khachanov will play Andy Murray in the fourth round after the giant Russian beat American 21st seed John Isner 7-6 (7/1), 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3).

Wozniacki became the first woman through to the quarter-finals as the Danish 11th seed dumped out Kuznetsova 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

Wozniacki, who made her only other last-eight appearance at Roland Garros in 2010, will meet either Australia's Samantha Stosur or Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia for a semi-final place.

"Svetlana's a great player, especially on clay so I knew it wouldn't be easy," said Wozniacki, a two-time US Open runner-up.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova advanced to round four with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Germany's Carina Witthoeft.

Pliskova, who had won just twice in five previous French Open appearances before this year, will face Paraguay's Veronica Cepede Royg for a quarter-final spot.

World number 290 and qualifier Petra Martic reached the last 16 with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Latvian 17th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Croatia's Martic, a former top 50 player whose ranking slumped after a back injury sidelined her for 10 months, will face Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.

"When I got injured, my only hope was that I would get a second chance so I can play some of my best tennis again," said Martic.

"I still can't believe that I'm sitting here."

Fifth seed Svitolina downed Magda Linette of Poland 6-4, 7-5.

Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky qualified for her third successive French Open quarter-final with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win over 2002 runner-up Venus Williams.

The 30th seed will take on France's Kristina Mladenovic for a place in the semi-finals.

Bacsinszky's best Grand Slam performance came when she reached the last four at Roland Garros in 2015, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams.

Her victory over Venus means a first-time major champion will be crowned next Saturday. 

(AFP)

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