Nadal, Halep steam ahead

BIG SCALP Daria Kasatkina celebrates a point during her fourth-round win over Caroline Wozniacki. REUTERS

Rafael Nadal moved a step closer to an incredible 11th French Open title on Monday by seeing off German Maximilian Marterer in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals.

The world number one's 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) victory over the world number 70 saw him equal the record of 12 last-eight appearances at Roland Garros, which was set by Novak Djokovic the day before.

Top seed Nadal, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Sunday, is now on his own in third on the all-time list for most match wins at Grand Slam events with 234 victories after passing Jimmy Connors.

He powered 39 winners past Marterer, who pushed the Spaniard as hard as he could without ever threatening an upset.

Nadal will face Argentinian Diego Schwartzman for a semifinal spot, after the 11th seed staged a thrilling comeback to down sixth seed Kevin Anderson 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2.

"The third set was very difficult, Maximilian is a good player," said Nadal, who has now won 37 consecutive sets at Roland Garros, just four short of Bjorn Borg's record set between 1979 and 1981.

Nadal was caught cold in the opening stages as some big hitting from Marterer brought him the first two games.

But it didn't take Nadal long to figure out his opponent, reeling off four straight games en route to an inevitable one-set lead.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion raced through the second set in just 38 minutes, breaking his opponent's serve twice.

But Marterer -- who was playing in the main draw for the first time -- moved into a 3-1 lead early in the third as he threatened to become the first man to take a set off Nadal at Roland Garros since the Spaniard's 2015 quarterfinal defeat by Djokovic.

But the reigning champion quickly hit back before securing a tie-break on his second match point when Marterer fired long, celebrating with a trademark fist pump.

Schwartzman fought back from two sets down to stun Anderson and reach the quarterfinals for the first time.

He was totally outplayed in the first two sets, but twice broke Anderson when the South African was serving for the match to pull off a dramatic win. The 25-year-old also reached the quarterfinals at last year's US Open.

World number seven Anderson, who was looking to become the first South African man to make the last eight in Paris since Cliff Drysdale 51 years ago, has now lost in the fourth round at Roland Garros on four occasions.

Third seed Marin Cilic overcame a typically colourful fightback from Fabio Fognini to make the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 win.

Cilic fired 44 winners past Fognini who twice needed treatment on an ankle injury.

The former US Open champion next faces fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro who brushed aside John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the last eight for the first time since 2012. Cilic trails the big Argentine 10-2 in career meetings.

Del Potro produced an impressive display on Court Suzanne Lenglen, firing 25 winners and making just 14 unforced errors against the American ninth seed.

Hotel hunting

Daria Kasatkina admitted on Monday that reaching her first Slam quarterfinal was such a shock that she almost left herself homeless in Paris.

The 21-year-old Russian stunned world number two and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.

However, despite being assured of $380,000 euros ($445,000) by reaching the last-eight at the French Open, the world number 14 had only booked accommodation until Tuesday.

"My house which I rent expired today, and I have to change to the hotel," she revealed after reeling off three straight games in just 17 minutes to finish her tie against Wozniacki which was suspended at 3-3 in the second set overnight because of darkness.

"I was renting it until June 5 and today we decided to move so not to do it on a match day. We are moving to the hotel. It is what it is."

Former champion Garbine Muguruza made the quarterfinals when opponent Lesia Tsurenko quit after just two games with a leg injury. Third seed Muguruza, the 2016 champion, was only on court for 20 minutes. Muguruza plays two-time champion Maria Sharapova for a place in the semifinals.

German 12th seed Angelique Kerber reached the last eigth for the second time with a 6-2, 6-3 win over France's Caroline Garcia.

Kerber, a former world number one and two-time major winner, will face top seed Simona Halep for a place in the semifinals.

World number one Halep, the runner-up in 2014 and 2017, routed Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-1.

Fourth round results (prefix denotes seeding): Men's singles: 1-Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4); 11-Diego Schwartzman (ARG) bt 6-Kevin Anderson (RSA) 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2; 5-Juan Martín Del Potro (ARG) bt 9-John Isner (USA) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; 3-Marin Cilic (CRO) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3.

Women's singles: 1-Simona Halep (ROM) bt 16-Elise Mertens (BEL) 6-2, 6-1; 12-Angelique Kerber (GER) bt 7-Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-2, 6-3; 3-Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 2-0 retired; 28-Maria Sharapova (RUS) w/o Serena Williams (USA); 14-Daria Kasatkina (RUS) bt 2-Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.

 

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Nadal, Halep steam ahead

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