Rafael Nadal moved another step closer to his 11th French Open title after a straight-sets win over Maximilian Marterer.
The world No 1, red-hot favourite to win the Roland Garros crown yet again, faced his toughest test so far but still came through unscathed to reach the quarter-finals.
If there were any concerns that 22-year-old German Marterer would be overawed facing the ‘King of Clay’ on the court he has ruled for the best part of 13 years, they were quickly dispelled when he broke Nadal’s serve in the opening game.
Nadal also faced break points at 2-2, but he fended them off and clinched his own second break to take the set.
A break in the first game of the second put Nadal on his way to a two-set lead as Marterer appeared to wilt.
Yet Marterer is clearly a fighter and he broke for 3-1 in the third, only for Nadal to hit straight back.
Nadal still needed a tie-break to see off a stubborn opponent -–winning his 37th consecutive set at the tournament - for a 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7/4) victory.
“The match in general terms was positive,” said Nadal. “The beginning a little bit not positive. But then after the 2-0, 6-3 6-2 was very positive.”
Serena Williams said she was “beyond disappointed” at pulling out of her match with Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros.
Less than an hour before they were likely to be on court, Williams called an impromptu press conference to announce she would have to withdraw.
The match in general terms was positive. The beginning a little bit not positive. But then after the 2-0, 6-3 6-2 was very positive.Rafael Nadal
The 36-year-old, playing in her first grand slam since giving birth to her daughter in September, said she had a pectoral muscle problem, which meant she could not serve.
“It’s very difficult, because I love playing Maria,” she said.
“You know, it’s just a match I always get up for. It’s just her game matches so well against mine.
“I have made every sacrifice that I could. I’m beyond disappointed.”
Sharapova will now face Garbine Muguruza in the last eight after the Wimbledon champion’s opponent Lesia Tsurenko pulled up injured early in the first set of their match.