Paris, May 29: Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray shrugged off the moody blues to record third-round victories on a packed Saturday at the French Open although the Briton suffered an injury which could yet threaten his title hopes.
The fourth seed, yet to win a grand slam, went over on his ankle when trying to slide to reach a ball early in the second set and after extensive strapping he was able to carry on despite continued winces and an immediate loss of serve.
Perspiration rather than inspiration had been the hallmarks of Murray's campaign on the Paris clay so far but apart from the injury and the navy-coloured shirt he shared with Nadal, the blues were banished with a 6-2 6-3 6-2 win over Michael Berrer.
The lasting effects of the injury were not immediately clear as the German underdog was so weak that Murray did not have to test the ankle hugely having started the match in much better form.
If fit, Murray next meets Serbia's 15th seed Viktor Troicki, a 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 winner over Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Champion Nadal stuttered through his first two matches but was all smiles in a 6-1 6-3 6-0 win over Croatian Antonio Veic with his recent vulnerability only in evidence on first serve in the first set and when broken twice in the second.
Bidding for a sixth title here in seven years, the Spaniard enters round four with much more confidence but with much more dangerous opponents to come who could exploit a nervousness caused by Madrid and Rome losses to Novak Djokovic.
Second seed Djokovic soon completes his third-round match against Juan Martin Del Potro with the scores level at 6-3 3-6 as the Serb faces a real threat to his 39-match winning streak in 2011 following Friday's suspension for bad light.
China's lightning-quick Li Na earlier wrapped up a women's third-round victory over Romanian Sorana Cirstea before most of the fans had arrived.
Big queues for the middle Saturday were still forming on the streets when sixth seed Li, the Australian Open runner-up, sealed a confident 6-2 6-2 win on a quarter-full Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Organisers were happy with Li's speedy work given an elongated programme on the second main court. Djokovic's half-finished tie is having to be shoehorned into the packed schedule.
Over on Court Philippe Chatrier down the tree and boutique-lined way, fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus easily got the better of Italy's Roberta Vinci with a 6-3 6-2 win which further highlighted her strong title credentials.
“I think I played very well. I was serving well, dominating, and trying to be as aggressive on her serve,” Azarenka told reporters.“I think I can improve, and I have been improving from match to match, which is important.”
With tops seeds Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters crashing out and several players missing with injury, any woman left could realistically triumph in next Saturday's final and Azarenka has continued her good form from the buildup events.
Czech ninth seed Petra Kvitova, who won the hardcourt Paris Open in February, is another definite contender and nonchalantly disposed of American Vania King 6-4 6-2 in sunnier conditions compared to the past two days.Russia's Ekaterina Makarova also knocked out Estonian 16th seed Kaia Kanepi.