World no. 2 and the 11-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal has booked the place in the fourth round, defeating the 27th seed David Goffin 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 49 minutes. The Spaniard earned his 89th win in Paris from 91 clashes and this was the first real test for him this week, losing a set only for the second time in the last 17 matches at his beloved Major before consolidating his game again in the fourth set to bring the encounter home safely and enter the last 16.
The Belgian has been struggling to find the form for more than a year now but he managed to show his abilities in the third set when he outplayed Nadal, raising the level to the point that the defending champion couldn't follow at that moment.
Still, he was inferior in the sets he lost (not that much in the fourth as in the first two), offering Rafa ten break points and suffering five breaks. On the other hand, the Spaniard faced two break points in the entire duel, hitting 38 winners and 21 unforced errors, happy with the way he performed despite losing one set.
Barely dropping a point on serve, Nadal claimed the opener 6-1 in 30 minutes, blasting one good initial shot after another and scoring two breaks in games two and four for the perfect start. Nothing changed in set number two, the pace that Spaniard imposed was too strong for David who gave serve away in the first game when Rafa landed a forehand down the line winner.
Returning at 5-3, Nadal notched another break and took 6-1 6-3 lead after just 73 minutes, looking good to bring the match home in no time at all. Out of sudden, the Belgian started to hit much better in set number three, blasting 17 winners and just four unforced errors to keep the serve safe after an opening game and break Nadal in game nine, moving over the top with a hold at 15 in the next game for a 6-4.
The Spaniard was back in front in set number four, never facing a break point and taking the lead in game four after a terrible forehand from Goffin that would cost him dearly. That was the only big moment on the return in the entire set and Rafa sealed the deal with a nice hold at 5-3 for the place in the next round.