Federer enters fourth round; Nadal wins

Federer enters fourth round; Nadal wins

Easy victories for Serena, Sharapova

Federer enters fourth round; Nadal wins

Roger Federer's French Open campaign gathered momentum as the Swiss second seed eased past France's Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 to reach the fourth round in awe-inspiring fashion on Friday.

There was the usual array of running aerial forehands, gravity-defying drop shots and whipped backhands from the former world number one who booked a meeting with American Sam Querrey, the 18th seed, or French 15th seed Gilles Simon. Benneteau, the 30th seed, broke in the first game to open a 2-0 lead but 17-times Grand Slam champion Federer kept his cool and turned the situation around in no time.

Benneteau, who has been struggling with a groin problem, bowed out on the first match point when he could not retrieve another powerful Federer forehand. Benneteau started with an exquisite crosscourt forehand winner and took the first game on Federer's serve but the Frenchman, who beat the Swiss in Rotterdam this year, could not sustain the pace.

At 3-3, Federer upped the tempo, winning 14 points in a row to snatch the opening set and he started the second in convincing style with some jaw-dropping shots. The second game of the second set lasted just 45 seconds and Federer flicked a sublime backhand into Benneteau's feet to break decisively in the ninth game.

Benneteau continued to fight in the third, but Federer, who won the title in Paris in 2009, was simply too good. He has now dropped 23 games over three straight-set victories.

Dismal weather

Defending champion Rafael Nadal got back down to business at Roland Garros, moving belatedly into the third round after his challenge for a record eighth title had been bogged down by dismal weather. Idle since Monday when he struggled past Germany's Daniel Brands, the 26-year-old Spaniard was again far from his scintillating best as he dropped the first set, this time to Slovakia's Martin Klizan, before winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Women's champion Maria Sharapova needed only 15 minutes on a cool, but mercifully dry, Chatrier Court as she polished off her second-round opponent Eugenie Bouchard having been a set and 4-2 ahead when rain stopped play on Thursday evening.

Top seed Serena Williams is making rapid headway and moved into the fourth round with a 6-0, 6-2 crushing of Romanian Sorana Cirstea. The formidable 31-year-old American took her current winning streak to 27 matches and has dropped six games so far.

Nadal's clash with Klizan was one of several second-round matches from the top half of the men's draw which is lagging behind the bottom half.

Nadal, bidding to become the first man to win a single Grand Slam eight times, started badly and was broken in the seventh game by fellow left-hander Klizan who for a while looked as he though might be able to finish the tattoo on his right calf.

After dropping the first set, Nadal responded to win the next three although it was never comfortable and he has yet to catch fire. Nadal has no tattoos but plays with the numeral "7" stencilled on to his shoes. The man from Mallorca looks like he desperately needs some Mediterraean-style sunshine if he is to have "8" decorating next year's sneakers.

Sania crashes out

India’s Sania Mirza and her Swedish partner Robert Lindstedt crashed out in the first round of the mixed doubles event, suffering a shocking straight-set defeat at the hands of Cara Black and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi here.

The top seeded Indo-Swede combination were no match for their unseeded opponents, losing 2-6, 3-6 in little less than an hour. In fact, there was hardly any fight from the Indo-Swedish pair.