Rafael Nadal sends out ominous warning to French Open rivals after fourth-round blitz

 
Ross McLean
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Rafael Nadal has never lost to a fellow Spaniard at Roland Garros (Source: Getty)

Former world No1 Rafael Nadal sounded an ominous warning to his rivals after continuing his quest for a 10th French Open title with a comprehensive fourth-round dismantling of compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut.

Fourth seed Nadal, who turned 31 on Saturday, maintained his record of never losing to a fellow Spaniard at Roland Garros by beating Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 50 minutes.

After an injury-hit 12 months, Nadal appears back to his very best and is looking to become the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam event. Margaret Court is the only player to have done so having won the Australian Open on 11 occasions.

He will now face Pablo Carreno Busta, who beat Milos Raonic, in the quarter-finals where victory will be his 100th in best-of-five-set matches on his beloved clay.

“I am in the quarter-finals, I am happy and I am playing well. That is the only important thing for me,” said Nadal, whose last grand slam success was the 2014 French Open.

“The goal is always to try your best every day and try to be through to the next round. That’s what I’ve done so I’m very happy about the first week of competition.”

Nadal remains on course to meet second seed Novak Djokovic in the last four after the defending champion defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, 6-3.

The 12-time grand slam winner, who equalled Jimmy Connors’ mark of 233 triumphs in grand slam singles matches, has not found progress at Roland Garros particularly easy and now faces sixth seed Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals.

Defending women’s champion Garbine Muguruza, meanwhile, hit out at the Roland Garros crowd after suffering a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 defeat to home favourite Kristina Mladenovic. Suzanne Lenglen Court had given its backing to Mladenovic.

“It’s a very painful defeat here in the French Open,” said a tearful Muguruza. “The crowd was really tough today. I can’t really understand. I don’t know how to explain.

“If you had been in my shoes on the court, I think you would have understood. I don’t know what people were expecting. I’d rather not say anything more.”

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams also bowed out, losing 7-5, 2-6, 1-6 to Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky. Her defeat means there will be a new Grand Slam champion in Paris on Saturday.

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