Paris - Roger Federer's French Open campaign gained momentum as the Swiss second seed eased past France's Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-4 7-5 to reach the fourth round in awe-inspiring fashion on Friday.
There was the usual array of running aerial forehands, gravity-defying drop shots and whipped backhands from the former world number one who booked a meeting with American Sam Querrey, the 18th seed, or French 15th seed Gilles Simon.
Benneteau, the 30th seed, broke in the first game to open a 2-0 lead but 17-times grand slam champion Federer kept his cool and turned the situation around in no time.
Benneteau, who has been struggling with a groin problem, bowed out on the first match point when he could not retrieve another powerful Federer forehand.
Federer left Court Philippe Chatrier on a standing ovation from the Paris crowd.
"You are so nice to me," Federer said courtside with a smile. "I'm sorry for Julien, he looked diminished," he added after a 91-minute tennis masterclass.
Benneteau started with an exquisite crosscourt forehand winner and took the first game on Federer's serve but the Frenchman, who beat the Swiss in Rotterdam this year, could not sustain the pace.
At 3-3, Federer upped the tempo, winning 14 points in a row to snatch the opening set and he started the second in convincing style with some jaw-dropping shots.
The second game of the second set lasted just 45 seconds and Federer flicked a sublime backhand into Benneteau's feet to break decisively in the ninth game.
Benneteau continued to fight in the third, but Federer, who won the title in Paris in 2009, was simply too good.
Meanwhile, American marathon man John Isner soothed the memory of his
record-breaking loss at last year's French Open with victory over Ryan
Harrison in another five-set epic on Friday.
A year to the day
that he lost to local favourite Paul-Henri Mathieu in a 76-game battle,
the most ever played in a men's match at Roland Garros, Isner held off
young gun Harrison to win 5-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 8-6 in three hours 50
The 19th seed looked to be on the way out after dropping
the opening two sets in a second-round match held over from Thursday but
struck back to grind down his 21-year-old rival.
victory, the 28-year-old was bent double after another brutal encounter
and clearly relieved after ending a six-match losing sequence in matches
going to five sets.
Isner, who faces Tommy Haas next, holds the
overall all time record for the longest professional match in history
when he beat France's Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 at Wimbledon
in 2010. The match lasted 11 hours and five minutes.
French Open results on Friday (x denotes seeded player):
David Ferrer (ESP x4) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-1, 7-5, 6-4
Roger Federer (SUI x2) bt Julien Benneteau (FRA x30) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Rafael Nadal (ESP x3) bt Martin Klizan (SVK) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Tommy Haas (GER x12) bt Jack Sock (USA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 7-5
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x29) bt Federico Del Bonis (ARG) 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4
Jerzy Janowicz (POL x21) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-4, 7-5, 6-2
Richard Gasquet (FRA x7) bt Michal Przysiezny (POL) 6-3, 6-3, 6-0
John Isner (USA x19) bt Ryan Harrison (USA) 5-7, 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 6-1, 8-6
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x9) bt Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 6-2, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB x8) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, 3-6, 5-7, 8-6
Serena Williams (USA x1) bt Sorana Cirstea (ROM x26) 6-0, 6-2
Maria Kirilenko (RUS x12) bt Ashleigh Barty (AUS) 6-3, 6-1
Marion Bartoli (FRA x13) bt Mariana Duque (COL) 7-6 (7/5), 7-5
Maria Sharapova (RUS x2) bt Eugnie Bouchard (CAN) 6-2, 6-4