French Open 2022: Young boy greets Rafael Nadal on court after third round win, tennis news

Spanish star Rafael Nadal made it through to the French Open fourth round but not before a “worrying” security breach.

Spanish tennis phenom Rafael Nadal advanced to the French Open fourth round with a convincing straight-set victory over No. 26 seed Botic van de Zandschulp on Friday.

The 35-year-old cruised to a 6-3 6-2 6-4 win in their third-round match at Court Philippe Chatrier in Paris to set up a mouth-watering final encounter with Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

But after completing his post-match routine, Nadal was intercepted by a young child who had sprinted onto the pitch.

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The 21-time Grand Slam champion politely greeted the long-haired boy, who also went by the name Rafael, and ruffled his hair before security intervened and, presumably, walked the child home to his parents.

While the moment was undeniably adorable, it raised questions about the safety of the venue.

“Yeah, I think Rafa was probably a bit surprised because it’s not what you expected,” said tennis great Tim Henman. Eurosport.

“He (the security guard) thinks, ‘Wow, I haven’t quite done my job. But I think the kid was probably looking for a souvenir, asking for a racket or a bracelet or something.

“But that’s not necessarily what you’d expect to see on any of the show grounds at a Grand Slam.”

Nadal’s record at Roland Garros improved to 108-3 after seeing off 2021 US Open quarter-finalist Van de Zandschulp.

The world number 5 has now reached the fourth round in 17 of his 18 visits to Roland Garros, except for 2016 when he retired in the third round with a wrist injury.

“Today was a very good test and a very positive test, because I was able to play my best match of the tournament so far, without a doubt,” Nadal said.

Defending French Open champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time winner Nadal are on track to meet in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros after the world No. 1 cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 victory, 6-2 over Slovenian Aljaz Bedene on Friday.

“I am always very motivated when I arrive on the court, with the desire to produce my best level every time. It’s not always possible to do it, but today was very good,” Djokovic said.

The 35-year-old is aiming to become Paris’ oldest men’s singles champion in the Open era as he chases a record 21st Grand Slam title.

Next up for Djokovic, who was also the French Open champion in 2016, is a match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the 15th seed.

– with AFP

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