PARIS – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal discovered an easy path into the men’s singles quarterfinals, but Stan Wawrinka battled through a five-hour five-setter to knock Greek promise Stefanos Tsitsipas out of the French Open here on Sunday.
Federer reached his 12th quarterfinal at the tournament with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, also becoming the oldest man to reach the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.
“Big serving, windy, it was a tough condition. We didn’t have many baseline rallies. Either one was always pressing and the other guy was defending,” Federer commented.
Nadal, bidding to win a record-extending 12th French Open title, swept another Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
“It’s a very difficult day. Very windy out there. So it’s not easy to find the feelings. But with that condition, I think I did a lot of things well,” said Nadal. “He’s good and very intense. Good shots from the baseline. Very aggressive.”
Nadal will next face Japanese No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori or Frenchman Benoit Paire, whose duel had to be suspended due to darkness.
Federer and Nadal are just one match away from their 39th career head-to-head in semifinals.
But prior to that, Federer had to eliminate in-form Wawrinka, who registered an epic victory of 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 over Tsitsipas in five hours and nine minutes, concluded by his backhand on the baseline and was called “in” by the umpire afterwards.
“Today we saw only one centimeter can change the winner,” Wawrinka admitted.
“He would have deserved as much as me to win the match today. It’s for sure a tough loss for him, but it was something that was a big battle. I’m happy with everything that I have done today, the way I was fighting and staying with him, even if I was tired, the way I started to play a little bit more aggressive,” he added.
Wawrinka finished 16 aces and 62 winners, also conceding 55 unforced errors in this topsy-turvy battle. The sixth-seeded Tsitsipas recorded 61 winners and 48 unforced errors.
“I’ve never experienced something like this in my life. I feel very disappointed at the end. Long time since I cried after a match, so emotionally it wasn’t easy to handle. I will try to learn from it as much as I can,” the 20-year-old Greek noted.
In the women’s singles, Petra Martic advanced to her career first Grand Slam quarterfinals by overcoming Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
Her next opponent will be Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic, as the latter eased past Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-0.
The other quarterfinal in the bottom half will be played between No. 26 seed Johanna Konta and seventh-seeded Sloane Stephens.
It was a day to celebrate for Chinese players in doubles, as Zhang Shuai partnered Australian John Peers to sail through mixed doubles second round.