PARIS — If it seems Roger Federer breaks one record or another every time he wins a match, that’s because he does these days.
Then again, good as Federer is, he can’t top this: His next opponent at the French Open, Belgium’s David Goffin, is unbeaten in Grand Slam main-draw matches. (OK, so the kid’s only 3-0, but still.)
Yes, before Federer can take on Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros this year, he’ll need to defeat Goffin, the first “lucky loser”– a player beaten in qualifying who sneaks into the field via someone’s withdrawal – to reach the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament in 17 years, and only the seventh to make it that far.
“Now I’m playing against Roger,” the 109th-ranked Goffin said after beating Lukasz Kubot 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-1 on Friday, “and I can’t believe it.”
The fresh-faced 21-year-old said he displayed photos and posters of 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer in his bedroom as a child.
“Since I was little, I’ve watched Roger play on TV. To me, he plays almost perfect tennis. His technique is perfect. I also like him at the human level; he’s a very good person on and off the court,” said Goffin. “I expect a very tough match on Sunday, of course. I don’t really know how I’ll prepare for it, but I’ll try to have fun.”
Federer’s 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Nicolas Mahut was his 235th, adding to his Open era record.
Novak Djokovic also advanced to the fourth round, extending his Grand Slam winning streak to 24 by beating Nicolas Devilder 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 7 Tomas Berdych and No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro also won.
American Sloane Stephens reached the fourth round, beating Mathilde Johansson 6-3, 6-2. Of the eight teenagers in this draw, the 19-year-old Stephens was the only one to even make it to the third round.
She will next play No. 6 Sam Stosur, who defeated Nadia Petrova 6-3, 6-3.
Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka advanced to the fourth round and Maria Sharapova to the third.