Despite injury worries, Rafael Nadal is happy to win the French Open in the third round

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal managed the opening laps well at Roland Garros (Image: Getty)

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

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

Nadal’s seamless progression in the early rounds in Paris has raised eyebrows as he struggled with a foot injury at the Grand Slam that saw him battle in the warm-up events on clay.

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

He said: “It was a pleasure to play Suzanne-Lenglen in front of an incredible crowd. Botic played really well, glory to him.

“I’m happy to progress in straight sets. I think it was my best game of the tournament so far for two and a half sets.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal showed little sign of injury in his third-round win at the French Open (Image: Getty)

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

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

His triumph over Van de Zandschulp was the 301st of his Grand Slam career and Nadal is grateful he can still play at a high level.

He added: “It shows two things when you hit those numbers. The first is that you are very old.

“The second is that I’ve had a great career. I’m happy with how things have gone in my tennis career.

“I’ve had difficult moments with injuries, but I’ve had great experiences in my life because I’ve played tennis. I feel lucky to be able to enjoy many things that I could never dream of.

Nadal meets Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round on Sunday.

MORE: Never write off Rafael Nadal but Novak Djokovic is number 1 as he prepares to defend French Open title

MORE : Tennis legend Rafael Nadal hints at retirement amid ongoing injury battle

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tennis Despite injury worries, Rafael Nadal is happy to win the French Open in the third round

Nate Jones

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