World number one Novak Djokovic and defending champion Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a French Open quarter-final Thursday as teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis provided a glimpse into the sport’s future.
Top seed Djokovic survived a worrying injury scare to reach the third round with a 6-1 6-4 6-4 win over Gilles Muller of Luxemburg.
Nadal, chasing a 10th Paris title, enjoyed a 6-4 6-3 6-1 breeze past Spanish compatriot Nicolas Almagro.
Djokovic’s win over 33-year-old Muller was his 24th consecutive victory this year as he took another step towards a first ever Roland Garros title and a career grand slam.
However, he needed a medical timeout leading 5-4 in the second set for treatment on what appeared to be a right groin strain.
It didn’t affect him too much as he quickly wrapped up the second set with a service game to love.
He eventually wrapped up the tie on Court Suzanne Lenglen after just an hour and 45 minutes, hitting an impressive 35 winners.
The 28-year-old goes on to face 19-year-old Kokkinakis who saved three match points to beat fellow Australian Bernard Tomic 3-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 8-6 to make the third round of a major for the first time.
Sixth seed Nadal will face Andrey Kuznetsov for a place in the last 16 after the Russian defeated Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 6-1 5-7 7-6 (7-0) 7-5.
“I am very happy. I played a great match and was very solid,” said nine-time champion Nadal who has now defeated Almagro 13 times out of 14.
“There were long games, the match was not as easy as the score may suggest.”
The 28-year-old Nadal now has 68 wins at the tournament and just one loss.
Britain’s third seed Andy Murray, twice a semi-finalist in Paris, faces Portugal’s Joao Sousa defending a 5-0 career record.
US Open champion Marin Cilic reached the third round for the fourth successive year.
The ninth-seeded Croatian fired 38 winners in a 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 6-1 win over Italian qualifier Andrea Arnaboldi.
Cilic will face Argentine 23rd seed Leonardo Mayer who beat Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-4 6-4 6-7 (1-7) 6-1 for a place in the last 16.
This year’s second round featured a record 19 men over the age of 30.
But 33-year-old German Benjamin Becker won’t be going any further after he was forced to withdraw from Friday’s scheduled third round clash with Japan’s fifth seed Kei Nishikori because of a right shoulder injury.
Nishikori will face either Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic or Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia for a place in the quarter-finals.
“Very sorry to hear about Benjamin being injured. I hope he recovers fast,” tweeted Nishikori, who also made the fourth round in 2013.
Becker needed two gruelling five-setters to get to the third round, seeing off Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium and Spanish 32nd seed Fernando Verdasco.
On Wednesday, Britain’s Kyle Edmund also withdrew from his second round clash against Australian 29th seed Nick Kyrgios.
Qualifier Edmund was suffering a stomach injury picked up in his five-set first round win over France’s Stephane Robert.
Kyrgios goes on to face either Murray or Sousa in the third round.