Defending champion Rafael Nadal set up a French Open third-round meeting with Britain’s Cameron Norrie by beating long-time opponent Richard Gasquet.
Spanish third seed Nadal, who has known Gasquet since they were juniors, won 6-0 7-5 6-2 on his 35th birthday.
Earlier on Thursday, Norrie reached the last 32 on the Paris clay for the first time as he came from a set down to beat South Africa’s Lloyd Harris.
Norrie, ranked 45th in the world, is the last Briton in the singles draws.
British number ones Dan Evans and Johanna Konta, as well as Heather Watson, were beaten in the first round at Roland Garros.
But Norrie ensured there would continue to be a British presence with a 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-2 win against world number 54 Harris.
Whether the 25-year-old can go any further depends if he can inflict any damage on 13-time champion Nadal.
In his post-match news conference, Norrie jokingly sent a message of support to Gasquet, telling him he could beat Nadal and earn a first tour-level win over him at the 17th attempt.
Nadal was in no mood to allow Gasquet to end that dismal record.
Playing with ruthless intensity from the start, Nadal lost just nine points in a 22-minute opening set and swiftly moved 5-2 ahead in the second.
Nadal was unable to convert a set point in the eighth game when Gasquet pushed him back in the court with a deep forehand and that proved to be a catalyst for the Frenchman to belatedly turn the match into a contest.
A tweak of his tactics saw Gasquet play more aggressively, helping him to unexpectedly fight back for 5-5 before Nadal refocused to break for the set.
The third set was also competitive until Nadal broke decisively in the sixth game and again in the final game for a convincing win.
“I played an amazing first set, I don’t feel Richard was playing that bad to have that score. I didn’t miss a ball and was hitting the spots all the time,” said Nadal.
“The second was a little bit different and I was happy to win that, then I was a little bit more controlled.
“The important thing is to win the match, but of course it is better to win in straight sets. The main thing is I’m playing well.”
Norrie’s ‘CEO’ approach to tennis
Norrie arrived at Roland Garros on a run of good form having reached two finals in May and has now claimed 25 wins in 2021.
It is the third time Norrie has reached this stage at a Grand Slam, having done so at the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open, and he explained what has changed over the past year.
“I think the biggest thing is I’m attacking tennis in all aspects and taking it to a different level professionally,” he said.
“Handling everything on the court and off the court and making it very business-like, like I’m the CEO of a company, and I’m doing things very smoothly.”
Steely professionalism is unlikely to be enough against Nadal.
Norrie lost to the Mallorcan left-hander in straight sets at the Australian Open in February and again in Barcelona two months later and he agreed facing the 35-year-old in Paris is one of the toughest tasks in sport.
“Obviously I’m going to be the underdog going in there, so no pressure on me,” he continued.
“I’ll go out and see if I can execute my game and frustrate him. It’s another wonderful experience for me playing him, again, third round of a Slam, especially where he’s been very dominant.”
Norrie cleans up first serve to win
The British number two struggled with his first serve early on against Harris – making just two of nine in his first two games – and was broken to go 2-1 down.
Norrie had a break point at 3-2, but his backhand sailed long and he could do nothing to contest Harris’ impressive serving for the remainder of the first set.
A more aggressive-looking Norrie came out in the second set and he took advantage as 24-year-old Harris had his own first serve difficulties, breaking to take a 3-1 lead.
Norrie held on to claim the second set and looked increasingly confident as he broke early in the third.
As Harris’ unforced error count rose, so did Norrie’s energy levels and he claimed three more breaks of serve to quickly wrap up the final two sets.
‘Norrie never looked worried’ – analysis
Former British number one Laura Robson
That was a very confident performance from Norrie. He never looked worried about how things were going and he never really changed his game plan.
He just waited for the Harris errors to creep in, which they absolutely did by the end of that match.
Norrie looks so in control out there and has played some fantastic tennis already this week. I think he has improved beyond sight over the last 18 months.