Tennis: Nadal, Pliskova and Muguruza power on in Paris but Tsitsipas has to battle through

Spanish star Rafael Nadal beat German qualifier Yannick Maden 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 to progress to the next round of the French open. PHOTO: AFP
Spaniard Garbine Muguruza (above), who lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2016, relied on her booming forehand throughout and wrapped it up when opponent Johanna Larsson netted a service return. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) - Rafael Nadal continued the strong start to his bid for a record-extending 12th French Open tennis title on Wednesday (May 29) with a comfortable victory over German qualifier Yannick Maden, while up-and-coming Stefanos Tsitsipas had to dig deep to reach round three.

The 32-year-old was in near total control against world No. 114 Maden bar some nervy moments in the third set, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. The 17-time Grand Slam champion will play Belgian 27th seed David Goffin in the last 32.

"He (Maden) is a good player. He had already won four matches so was full of confidence," said Nadal, whose Roland Garros win-loss record now reads an incredible 88-2. "For me it was an important victory."

The Spaniard wasted little time in wrapping up the first two sets on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Maden may have briefly allowed himself to dream of an outrageous upset when he twice broke to level at 3-3 and then 4-4 in the third set, but Nadal put him back in his place with two quick games to seal victory.

Nadal appears to be hitting form at just the right time, after following three consecutive semi-final defeats on clay with the Italian Open title before arriving in Paris. He finished the match with 43 winners against just 23 unforced errors.

On the women's side, second seed Karolina Pliskova cruised into the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Slovakian qualifier Kristina Kucova.

The Czech will next face either Croatian 31st seed Petra Martic or home hope Kristina Mladenovic for a spot in the second week.

Pliskova, a former Roland Garros semi-finalist, arrived in Paris full of confidence after lifting the Italian Open title less than two weeks ago and she wasted no time in swatting aside Kucova in under an hour.

Young Greek star Tsitsipas did not have things all his own way against Bolivia's Hugo Dellien on Court Simonne Mathieu, but managed to grind out a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 victory.

The sixth seed, who beat Roger Federer en route to the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year, will take on either Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena or Serbia's Filip Krajinovic in his maiden appearance in the third round.

The 20-year-old started strongly with an early break, but appeared unsettled following a medical time-out for Dellien after the world No. 86 appeared to twist his ankle.

Dellien quickly sealed the opening set, but Tsitsipas raced through the next two sets and seemingly towards victory.

Despite letting a 4-2 lead in the fourth set slip, the 25-year-old Dellien just would not go away, saving three match points from 0-40 down in the 10th game to level at 5-5.

But Tsitsipas did secure the win in his opponent's next service game, curling a forehand up the line on his fourth match point.

Later on Wednesday, 20-time Grand Slam title winner Federer continues his Roland Garros return after a four-year absence against German lucky loser Oscar Otte.

Svitolina to face Muguruza

Ukrainian Elina Svitolina will face 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza in the women's third round after the ninth seed's compatriot Kateryna Kozlova pulled out of the tournament before their match with a viral infection.

Spain's Muguruza, seeded 19th this year, eased to a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Swede Johanna Larsson to advance. Svitolina, a two-time French Open quarter-finalist, had beaten seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in her opening tie.

Last year's runner-up Sloane Stephens also eased through with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) win over Sara Sorribes Tormo on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The former US Open champion, who lost to Simona Halep in the 2018 French Open final, will play Slovenia's Polona Hercog next, after she edged out American Jennifer Brady 6-3, 6-7 (8-10), 6-4.

Seventh seed Stephens has now reached at least the third round at Roland Garros on each of her last seven visits to the French capital.

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