Paris: Rafael Nadal blew away American qualifier Sebastian Korda 6-1 6-1 6-2 to romp into the French Open quarter-finals on Sunday and close in on a record-extending 13th title at Roland Garros.
With the sun out and the wind up on Court Philippe Chatrier it always looked like mission impossible for the 213th-ranked Korda, and so it proved in a one-sided fourth round match.
Nadal has lost no sets and only 23 games in reaching his 42nd Grand Slam quarter-final and is yet to face a seed. Rising Italian Jannick Sinner, the first player since Nadal in 2005 to reach the quarter-finals on his debut, is next.
“I`m in the quarter-finals without losing a set and having very positive scores. So I can`t complain at all,” the 34-year-old, who needs one more Grand Slam title to equal Roger Federer`s 20, told reporters.
“Today the conditions out there were so difficult to play a fantastic match, the wind was very high. But in general terms I am very happy.”
The 20-year-old Korda, son of 1992 runner-up Petr, had enjoyed a dream run in his first Tour-level event on clay and was up against his idol – the man he named his cat after.
If he was to stand any chance of making it at all competitive he needed a good start, and he will rue the fact that he lost the first two games despite having game points.
Nadal, who needed nine minutes to hold serve in the first game, admitted that had been a crucial factor in ensuring this was a Sunday stroll.
“Of course it was tough for him because after he played I think two very good games, he was 2-0 down in the score,” Nadal, who has won 97 of 99 matches at the French Open, said.
“It was important at the beginning because when you play a player with big talent, young players, when they start well and they are in front, you encourage them.
“I fought for those couple of games.”
After that sticky start Nadal bounded into a 5-0 lead and his tall opponent, bidding to become the first American man to reach the last eight here since Andre Agassi in 2003, began to lose heart as the wind gusted and Nadal put the hammer down.
The first two sets went by in little more than an hour but even Nadal can lose focus occasionally and he dropped serve at the start of the third set to trail 2-0.
Normal service was soon restored though as Nadal rattled off the next six games.
“Qualifying for my first Grand Slam, winning my first tour-level match, and then playing Rafa on Chatrier in the fourth round of a Grand Slam, it`s a big blessing,” Korda said.
“I learned a lot. The score wasn`t the closest, but I mean every game was pretty close.”