Swiss pair Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka both eased into the last 16 of the French Open on Friday as hopes of a first home winner in 32 years were boosted.
Second-seeded Federer, whose sole title win in Paris came in 2009, reached the fourth round for the 11th straight year with a straightforward 6-4 6-3 6-2 win over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.
That set up a potential blockbuster against Gael Monfils, conditional on the French showman seeing off Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in a third round tie later on Friday.
Already set in the same quarter of the draw at the last 16 stage is another Franco-Swiss encounter opposing Wawrinka and Gilles Simon.
Former Australian Open champion Wawrinka blasted past American Steve Johnson, while Simon saw off a tough challenge from fellow Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1.
The French will be out for some semblance of revenge on Federer and Wawrinka, who combined to inflict a painful defeat on France in the Davis Cup final in Lille last November.
“He’s played me tough throughout my career, I thought. Especially the last four, five years now. He’s been tougher for me to play against,” said Federer of a potential match-up against Monfils.
“We have played against each other here (Roland Garros) on a few occasions as well. Semis, quarters, some of my big years here. So clearly I’d love to play against him.”
Earlier in the day, Richard Gasquet made it seven French players into the third round of the tournament stirring hopes of a realistic home title challenge.
That number equalled the second best showing for French players at the last 32 stage in Paris in the Open-era since 1968, beaten only by the eight men who made it that far in 1971.
Gasquet, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and world top tenner, finally saw off the challenge of Argentine claycourter Carlos Berlocq 3-6 6-3 6-1 4-6 6-1 after the match had been suspended overnight at two sets all.
His reward is a third-round tie against South African Kevin Anderson.
Also through to the third round in the top half of the draw is Jeremy Chardy, who takes on Belgium’s David Goffin on Saturday, while five other French hopes were in action in the bottom half of the draw on Friday.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a semi-finalist for France at Roland Garros in 2013, was scheduled last on the Philippe Chatrier Centre Court taking on Spain’s Pablo Andujar.
Finally Benoit Paire had a tough task going up against fourth seed Tomas Berdych.
The last home winner of the men’s singles at the French Open, and of any grand slam tournament, was Yannick Noah in 1983 with Henri Leconte the last to reach the final in 1988 where he lost to Mats Wilander.
Since then Leconte in 1992, Cedric Pioline (1998), Sebastien Grosjean (2001), Monfils (2008) and Tsonga (2013) all fell at the semi-final stage.