Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal remain on course for a colossal semi-final meeting at the French Open after both players reached the second week in Paris with vastly contrasting third-round wins at Roland Garros. While tournament favourite Nadal continued his assault on a record 10th title with victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili, Serbian Djokovic was pushed to five sets by world number 41 Diego Schwartzman.
The defending champion was rocked by the Argentine at regular intervals and trailed by two sets to one as Djokovic began to unravel. Despite an angry confrontation with the umpire regarding a time violation in the fourth, the 12-time major champion levelled the match before a leg-weary Schwartzman collapsed in the decider, as Djokovic prevailed 5-7 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-1.
It was a different story entirely for potential last four opponent Nadal, whose unrelenting pursuit of 'La Decima' continued with his most sublime display of the tournament so far. The Spaniard dropped just a single game in a 90-minute clinic, blowing Basilashvili away – who had no answer to Nadal's faultless display.
"Today was one of the best matches I have ever played, without a doubt," the 30-year-old admitted. "I am really happy because I have a really good feeling. Every day my training is going very well, my practice. When I have a match, I play very well.
"In the beginning of the match he was not playing bad, and I was able to produce winners, to play with no mistakes, to play very long. Very high intensity in all the shots. It was a great match for me. I won with that score against a player that already won against [Gilles] Simon and [Viktor] Troicki ... I played very well."
Elsewhere in the men's draw there were early retirements for David Goffin and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in their third round matches against Horacio Zeballos and Milos Raonic. Belgian Goffin tripped on a court cover after just nine games and was forced to withdraw with a suspected knee injury, before a thigh problem for Garcia-Lopez helped Raonic set up a last 16 meeting with another Spaniard in the shape of Pablo Carreno Busta.
Madrid Open runner-up Dominic Thiem secured safe passage into the third round after defeating Steve Johnson in straight sets and there was a similar result for Rafa Bautista Agut as he ousted Jiri Vesely for the loss of just 10 games.