Rafael Nadal cruises past Richard Gasquet into French Open last-16

Spain's Rafael Nadal in action. Reuters

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Rafael Nadal will not be letting his guard drop as he prepares to face Maximilian Marterer in the French Open fourth round, following his routine win over Richard Gasquet.

Nadal was at his most overpowering best as he mercilessly shoved Richard Gasquet out of his way with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 triumph that gave him a ideal present for his 32nd birthday today and only served to make him an ever-firmer favourite to yet again lift La Coupe des Mousquetaires a week today.

But the world number one played down thoughts that he is unbeatable on clay - Austrian Dominic Thiem is the only player to win against him on the surface this year in the Madrid Masters quarter-finals.

"Of course I have won a lot, and it can maybe influence my opponents".

With about a week to go, Nadal is looking more and more like the absolute favorite.

"I played very well, I'm sorry for Richard, he is a good friend and a good person", Nadal said.

Gasquet has struggled against the very top players throughout his career and his record against Nadal is testament to that.

"I think we know each other since we were 14", said the Russian. He hits the ball with big topspin. Like his coach, the former player Simone Vagnozzi said, he knows how to manage the different phases of the match. Juan Martin del Potro was a victor over former quarterfinalist ALbert Ramos Vinolas 7-5, 6-4, 6-1.

Diego Schwartzman joined countryman del Potro in the fourth round with an impressive 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Borna Coric.

No. 3 Marin Cilic eliminated Steve Johnson of the U.S. 6-3 6-2 6-4.

In another rain-affected game, Belgian David Goffin (8th seed) saved four match points to defeat Frenchman Monfils in a thriller, 6-7 (6) 6-3 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Fognini, sporting an eye-catching red T-shirt with black thunderbolts on the front and back, beat 16th-seeded Briton Kyle Edmund 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson beat Mischa Zverev 6-1 6-7 (3) 6-3 7-6 (4).

Mouratoglou says: "If it rains, we might gain one more day, and you never know how it feels tomorrow".

On tap Sunday, the fourth round begins with Novak Djokovic and Fernando Verdasco colliding for a 15th time. Gasquet was seeded 27th in Paris but has been ranked as high as No. 7 and made it to three Grand Slam semi-finals.

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