Rafael Nadal stormed into the third round of the French Open with a straight-sets defeat of Richard Gasquet under the floodlights in Paris.

Gasquet, the final French player in either the men's or women's draws, offered some resistance after a terrible start but succumbed 6-0 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes.

Nadal has now beaten Gasquet in all 17 of their meetings on Tour, with the Frenchman falling to a Spaniard for the second tournament running, having lost 6-1 6-1 to Jaume Munar in Parma last month.

The 20-time major singles champion turned 35 on Thursday and seemed eager to go and enjoy what remained of his birthday as he reeled off the first seven games in a row inside half an hour.

Gasquet at last got on the board after a couple of strangely errant forehands from the defending champion, who broke Gasquet again at the third time of asking as he moved 4-1 ahead in the second set.

Gasquet might have dropped to 53 in the rankings, but he offered glimpses of the form that saw him climb as high as seven in the world back in 2008, the one-handed backhand and drop-shot game causing Nadal some problems.

There was a shock when he broke back at 4-5 behind in the second set as Nadal looped another forehand long, but Nadal piled on the pressure at 6-5 and took a 2-0 lead when Gasquet slapped a forehand into the bottom of the net.

A sublime volley and a rasping passing shot saw Gasquet fend off two more break points at 1-2 in the third, but his resistance was finally broken in a mammoth sixth game.

Gasquet's serve deserted him at the wrong moment as he handed Nadal two match points, the second of which was taken via another forehand into the net.

Data Slam: Nadal keeps Gasquet at arm's length

Nadal dropped just seven of 45 points behind his first serve, which averaged speeds of 180km/h, leaving Gasquet with few opportunities to knock the Spaniard off his game.

Such authority meant Gasquet had little chance of snapping his losing streak against Nadal, whose 17 wins from 17 meetings is a career record.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 36/23
Gasquet – 20/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 3/3
Gasquet – 2/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/16
Gasquet – 1/4

Alex de Minaur's tough run of form continued as he let a set lead slip to lose to Jeremy Chardy at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.

De Minaur, the ninth seed in Dubai, won his first tournament of 2021 in Antalya in January.

However, the Australian's results since then have rapidly declined and his latest loss - 2-6 6-3 6-4 to Chardy - means he is 3-5 since his title in Turkey.

De Minaur seized his first two break points against Chardy, yet the next four came and went while his opponent proved clinical, taking his only two opportunities and snatching victory.

The Frenchman, who reached the semi-finals in Antalya and again at an ATP 250 event in Melbourne prior to the Australian Open, said: "I've played good since the beginning of the year.

"It is always easier to play when you are confident. If you play a bad set, it is never finished. I stayed focused and tried to find a solution."

It was not a successful start to the week for De Minaur's compatriots either, as John Millman was among three other Aussies to crash out.

Christopher O'Connell missed the chance to set up a meeting with Dominic Thiem as Lloyd Harris advanced, and qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori saw off Jordan Thompson ahead of facing Andrey Rublev.

Marton Fucsovics was back in action after handing a walkover to Rublev, the same man who had previously beaten him to the Rotterdam Open title, in Qatar last week.

He defeated Vasek Pospisil in three sets, while there was a milestone win for Richard Gasquet, another man unable to line up against Rublev in Doha.

A 6-4 6-2 win over Marco Cecchinato was his 550th on the ATP Tour, making him only the sixth active player to that mark after the 'big four' of Roger Federer (1,243), Rafael Nadal (1,008), Novak Djokovic (943) and Andy Murray (677) and Spain's Fernando Verdasco (552).

"I am feeling great here," Gasquet said. "I know this court well. I played well last year. It is a fast court. I like to play on it.

"It is important to serve well and it was a great match. I started well, feeling confident and winning the first set, and then I played better in the second set."

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