Rafael Nadal produces his ‘best match’ at 2022 French Open, up next Felix Auger-Aliassime and Uncle Toni

Rafael Nadal plays a shot

Rafael Nadal continued to conserve energy with bigger fish to fry later at the French Open as he notched up his third consecutive three-set win, this time beating Botic Van De Zandschulp.

After coming into the tournament under an injury cloud, Nadal made light of Jordan Thompson and Corentin Moutet in his opening two matches and he also had too much in his locker for the Dutchman, winning 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Van De Zandschulp, though, did break the Nadal serve twice – in the opening game of the match and in the third set, although the 13-time champion was up 1-4 at that stage.

Nadal himself broke twice in each of the three sets in two hours and 12 minutes.

“It was a pleasure to play on Suzanne-Lenglen in front of an incredible crowd,” Nadal said. “Botic played really well, credit to him.

“I am happy to be through in straight sets. I think it was my best match of the tournament so far for two sets and a half.”

He added: “It shows two things when you achieve these numbers. The first one is you are very old.

“The second is that I have had a great career. I am happy with how things have happened in my tennis career.

“I have had tough moments with injuries, but I have enjoyed great experiences in my life because of tennis.

“I feel fortunate to be able to enjoy a lot of things that I could never dream about.”

He will face Felix Auger-Aliassime for a place in the quarter-final after the Canadian defeated Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2), 7-5.

Ninth seed Auger-Aliassime will, of course, have Nadal’s uncle and former coach Toni Nadal in his box after the Spaniard joined his coaching set-up in 2021.

The winner of that clash is likely to meet world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the last eight with the defending champion taking on Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round.