There were landmark wins for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the second round of the French Open while a familiar face is showing form again at last.
Nadal became the eighth player to record 200 grand slam victories, thumping Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis 6-3 6-0 6-3.
After losing the first two games, Nadal won 18 of the next 22 and arrives in the last 32 having barely broken sweat. The nine-time champion said: “I didn’t even know, so the most important thing is a victory in the second round more than the 200 victories. That’s only another number.”
World No 1 Djokovic had a tougher time against Belgian qualifier Steve Darcis, but avoided dropping a set in a 7-5 6-3 6-4 victory.
It was his 50th win at Roland Garros and made him the third player in the Open era, after Roger Federer and Serena Williams, to rack up a half-century at every slam.
Few players have been as up and down over the past decade as Ernests Gulbis. The Latvian is into the third round at a slam for the first time since his run to the semi-finals in Paris two years ago.
Gulbis beat Federer and Tomas Berdych before losing to Djokovic in 2014 and finally made the breakthrough into the top 10.
But, instead of being the start of great things for the talented but mercurial 27-year-old, he promptly sank like a stone.
Now ranked 80, Gulbis is philosophical about the fluctuations in his career after overcoming shoulder and wrist problems.
“I was a couple of times already in the spotlight and a couple of times already it’s faded, so it wasn’t the first time,” he said after a 6-2 7-5 6-3 victory over 26th seed Joao Sousa.
Gulbis next meets sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who looked set to become the biggest casualty of the men’s tournament so far when he lost the first two sets against Marcos Baghdatis.
But Tsonga, a semi-finalist in two of the last three years, recovered to win 6-7 (6/8) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2.
British No 2 Aljaz Bedene battled into the third round of a grand slam for the first time. Inonly the second five-set match of his career, against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, helped by his opponent’s thigh injury, he won 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 4-6 5-7 6-2 after three hours and 19 minutes
After being taken to five sets by both Radek Stepanek and Mathias Bourgue, next up today for British No 1 Andy Murray is 6ft 11ins Ivo Karlovic, who is likely also to be feeling weary after finally overcoming Australia’s Jordan Thompson 12-10 in the fifth set in round two.