PARIS   -   Roger Federer eased past Norway’s Casper Ruud 6-3 6-1 7-6(10-8) on Friday to become the oldest male player to reach the fourth round at the French Open in almost 50 years.

Playing in his 400th Grand Slam match, the 37-year-old showed little mercy to his 20-year-old Norwegian opponent, whose father Christian reached the third round when Federer first played on the ‘terre battue’ of Roland Garros as a wild card entrant in 1999. Federer needed little more than an hour to pick up the first two sets, but a rare lapse in concentration allowed Ruud, ranked 63 in the world, to pick up an early break in the third set. The Swiss reeled the youngster back in, forcing the game to a tie-break where he squandered three match points before winning 10-8.

As he signed autographs at the end, a female fan said: “Roger, I’ve never seen you sweat before, this is crazy.” Federer quipped back: “I know, I don’t know what’s going on, I must be getting old!” Federer was making his first appearance at Roland Garros since he reached the quarter-finals in 2015. He withdrew from the event in 2016 and missed the entire clay court season in 2017 and 2018 to focus on grass.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Garbine Muguruza laid down an impressive marker at the French Open as she overpowered ninth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 to reach the fourth round on Friday. The 19th seed has struggled for consistency this year but Roland Garros tends to bring the best out of her and so it proved again as the 2016 champion outplayed the Ukrainian on a sunny Court Philippe Chatrier.

The tall Muguruza made her intentions clear from the start, planting herself on the baseline and blazing away with her baseline power-game that Svitolina struggled to contain. Making mincemeat of Svitolina’s serve, she broke five times in the opening set, allowing her opponent only seven points on her own delivery, albeit dropping her own serve three times.

A series of service holds broke the pattern at the start of the second set before Svitolina speared an inside-out forehand winner to break and nudge 3-2 ahead. Muguruza simply raised the intensity again, however, and won an exhausting 22-stroke rally to level at 3-3. The two-time Grand Slam champion then powered through the last three games to book her place in the fourth round for the sixth time in eight appearances.