Roger Federer
Roger Federer advances to the fourth round of the French Open after defeating Julian Benneteu [Reuters]

Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal both safely advanced at the French Open on Friday to keep their hopes of winning the tournament alive.

Seven time champion Nadal was forced to recover from losing the first set to Slovakia's Martin Klizan but he soon began to find his rhythm and progressed into the third round at Roland Garros.

The world number three eventually sealed a 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 victory but there was a huge shock when he dropped the first set. Nadal has lost only 14 sets in 53 matches at the French Open but has already dropped two sets in his first two matches.

Klizan broke the Nadal serve on four occasions but he eventually succumbed to the Spaniard, who will play Italy's Fabio Bognini in the next round, in just a touch under three hours.

"I started a bit too defensive," Nadal said after the victory. "I improved a little bit during the match."

It was a much more serene progress for Federer who secured a 6-3 6-4 7-5 victory over 30th seed Julian Bennetau who had twice defeated the Swiss ace, including one victory earlier this year in Rotterdam.

Benneteu had looked like causing an upset last year when he led Federer by two set to love in the third round Wimbledon but this year he was unable to make any sort of impact.

Despite breaking Federer's serve in the first game, Benneteu was unable to capitalise on the perfect start as the 17-time Grand Slam champion went on to win six of the next seven games.

Federer wrapped up the victory in one hour and 31 minutes and will now play either France's Gilles Simon or big serving American Sam Querry in the fourth round.

There were also comfortable victories for women's top seed Serena Williams and defending champions Maria Sharapova.

Sharapove defeated Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-2 6-4 but there was some rust from the Russian who made 28 unforced errors and will now play China's Jie Zheng for a place in the last 16.

Williams extended her winning streak to 27 matches as she secured a 6-0 6-2 win over 26th seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

The American has only been victorious on one occasion at Roland Garros back in 2002 but she will be hoping that she can add to her 15 Grand Slams.

"I play very aggressive,'' said Williams who will play Czech Petra Cetkovska or Italy's Roberta Vinci in the fourth round."That's important for me, because I want to keep on winning here.''