Rafael Nadal has managed the early rounds well at Roland Garros (Picture: Getty)

Rafael Nadal says his third-round victory over Botic van de Zandschulp was his best performance so far at this year’s French Open.

The Spaniard, 35, beat van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Court Suzanne Lenglen to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros.

Nadal’s seamless progress through the early rounds in Paris has raised eyebrows as, coming into the Grand Slam, he had been battling a foot injury which saw him struggle in the clay warm-up events.

However, after his third-round win on Friday, the 21-time Grand Slam champion looks on course to go deep in the French capital once again.

He said: ‘It was a pleasure to play on Suzanne-Lenglen in front of an incredible crowd. 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.’

Nadal showed little sign of injury during his third-round victory at the French Open (Picture: Getty)

Nadal, known as the King of Clay, is aiming for his 14th title at Roland Garros and his fifth in the last six editions.

Over the last decade, he has been praised for his longevity, with his first French Open title having been won in 2005.

His triumph over Van de Zandschulp was the 301st in his Grand Slam career and Nadal is thankful he is still able to play at a high level.

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

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‘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.’

Nadal will face Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round on Sunday.


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