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Faultless Roger Federer eases into quarterfinals, Rafael Nadal ends Juan Londero’s run

Four years ago, Roger Federer lost in the quarterfinals to Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.

Roger Federer’s return to French Open clay is going so smoothly he still has not dropped a set in reaching the quarterfinals.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner eased through with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win Sunday against unseeded Argentine Leonardo Mayer.

With temperatures reaching 88 Fahrenheit (31 Celsius) on a sun-soaked center court, the third-seeded Federer did not face a break point in beating Mayer for the fourth time in four meetings.

Federer won his only French Open in 2009 and remains on course for a semifinal showdown with Rafael Nadal, the defending champion at Roland Garros. Nadal was facing another unseeded Argentine, Juan Ignacio Londero, later on Sunday.

After dropping his serve to lose the second set, Mayer angrily swiped the ball away and was given a code violation warning for ball abuse.

Federer was looking so clinical and assured that the crowd at Philippe Chatrier groaned in disbelief when he missed an easy-looking forehand volley at the net, early in the third set.

It was the second time Federer has beaten Mayer at a Grand Slam _ the other also coming in straight sets, in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2015. That was also the last year Federer played at Roland Garros, before skipping clay entirely until returning to the surface this year.

Four years ago, Federer lost in the quarterfinals to Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.

He next faces either Wawrinka or rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Federer in the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open.

They were playing their fourth-round match Sunday on neighboring Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Earlier Sunday, Petra Martic followed up her win over second-seeded Karolina Pliskova by rallying past Kaia Kanepi 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 on center court to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

The 31st-seeded Croat next faces Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova, who reached her first quarterfinal at a major without dropping a set. The 19-year-old Vondrousova beat 12th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 6-0 in just 59 minutes.

Also advancing to the last eight was 26th-seeded Briton Johanna Konta, who beat 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic 6-2, 6-4. Konta’s quarterfinal opponent will be either 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza or 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Their match was following Nadal’s on center court.

Nadal ends Londero’s run

Rafael Nadal ended the dream run of French Open debutant Juan Ignacio Londero with a typically dominant 6-2 6-3 6-3 victory on Sunday to power into the quarter-finals.

In hot and breezy conditions, the Spaniard produced claycourt tennis of the highest quality to make the last eight of a Grand Slam event for the 38th time.

The tone was set when he broke the 25-year-old Londero’s serve in the second game of the Court Philippe Chatrier duel and while his 78th-ranked opponent never threw in the towel he could only try to delay the inevitable.

Londero had a break point early in the third set but Nadal stamped out that danger and broke in the very next game to close in on victory.

With his eyes fixed firmly on claiming a 12th French Open title next Sunday he seemed eager to finish the job swiftly, but after moving 4-1 ahead in the third set he dropped serve for the first time in the match.

Nadal’s pace appeared to drop ever so slightly and Londero even sensed another break two games later when heavy hitting got him to 0-30 on the second seed’s serve, but Nadal reeled off four consecutive points, holding with an ace.

He finished the match with a signature forehand to set up a clash with Kei Nishikori or Benoit Paire.

Wawrinka outslugs Tsitsipas in marathon ‘battle of the backhands’

Former champion Stan Wawrinka thumped 62 winners as he outlasted Stefanos Tsitsipas in a bruising five-hour “battle of the backhands” on Sunday to reach the French Open quarter-finals.

Wawrinka beat the sixth-seeded Greek 7-6(6) 5-7 6-4 3-6 8-6 to set up a meeting with fellow Swiss Roger Federer who cruised past Leonardo Mayer of Argentina in straight sets.

Wawrinka, who beat Federer in straight sets en route to the 2015 French Open title, clinched victory on his second match point, with a backhand that landed on the line on a sun-soaked Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Both armed with a blistering single-handed backhand, the match between the 34-year-old Wawrinka, three-times Grand Slam winner, and the 20-year-old Tsitsipas, who had been trying to become the first Greek player to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals, more than lived up to its billing.

Having dropped the first set on a double fault, the swashbuckling Greek won a dramatic 77-minute second on his sixth set point, having squandered a 3-1 and 5-3 lead.

The best rally of the match came during a see-saw 13-minute game at 5-4 in the second set, with Wawrinka ripping groundstrokes and smashes as Tsitsipas retrieved.

The Swiss, who had two knee surgeries in 2017, prevailed with a backhand drop shot that touched the net on the 23rd shot, to a standing ovation from the crowd.

After splitting the third and fourth sets, the 28th-seeded Wawrinka stamped his authority on his younger opponent, who had squandered three break points at 5-5 in the decider.

Serving to stay in the match at 6-7, Tsitsipas dumped a forehand into the net to hand his opponent two match points and Wawrinka took advantage to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final since the 2017 French Open where he went on to make the final.

Wawrinka, the 2015 champion, warmly embraced his opponent but the hurt was plain for all to see as Tsitsipas headed off. “I feel exhausted. I don’t know. Never experienced something like this in my life,” Tsitsipas told reporters. “I feel very disappointed at the end. Long time since I cried after a match, so emotionally wasn’t easy to handle. I will try to learn from it as much as I can. It’s the worst feeling ever. Especially when you lose. You don’t want to be in my place.”

Tsitsipas converted only five of 27 break points — a statistic that ultimately cost him his chance. “I was so close, so close. So many break points. So many. Didn’t play. I was expecting someone else to play it for me. I didn’t play,” he said.

Asked what he would learn, he said: “I have no idea. My mind is so empty right now. I cannot even think.”

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