Rafael Nadal has tipped Alexei Popyrin for greatness after being tested by the youngster in the opening match of his latest French Open title defence.

World number three Nadal saved two set points in the third set on his way to a well-earned 6-3 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory in Tuesday's contest at Roland Garros.

It means that only three players have taken a set from the Spaniard at the grand slam event since 2016 – Diego Schwartzman, David Goffin and Dominic Thiem.

Nadal's victory over Popyrin was his 31st in a row in Paris since 2015 and keeps him on course for a record-extending 14th triumph in the French capital.

The third seed was impressed by what he saw from his 21-year-old opponent, who showed admirable resistance by saving four break points to force a tie-break in the third set.

"With this serve, with these kinds of shots from the baseline, he has everything to become a top player," Nadal said. "If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game.

"He has everything to become a great, or at least a fantastic player. Let's see. Let's see what is going on in the next couple of months and years."

Asked about his impressive record of rarely dropping a set, Nadal said: "We are playing best-of-five. The other player needs to win two more sets to beat you.

"I know I'm going to be there fighting for every single point. Of course I don't want to lose the set at all, but that's part of the game.

"I'm happy to win that third set. I don't know how I won it, but I did, and I'm glad."

RUBLEV BEATEN BY BIG-SERVING STRUFF

Nadal's path to another French Open title is a little clearer following seventh seed Andrey Rublev's surprise first-round exit to world number 42 Jan-Lennard Struff.

Rublev had reached the quarter-final stage at his previous three majors and was much fancied to go far in Paris, but he fell 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 6-4 to the big-serving Struff.

The German hit 25 aces on his way to beating a top-10 opponent at a grand slam for the first time, setting up a second-round meeting with Facundo Bagnis.

"I was feeling fine," Rublev said after the defeat. "I practiced well. I don't know why I lost. I think we played a good level today. I played a solid two sets, third and fourth, and then the fifth set.

"I think I should have won the second set, but this is tennis. I was serving for the set and I didn't make it, then in the tie-break I was a bit unlucky and he played well."

MONFILS ENDS SLAM DROUGHT

Fan favourite Gael Monfils battled back from a set down to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-4 and earn his first grand slam win since the 2020 Australian Open.

Monfils has struggled since tennis resumed last year after the coronavirus-enforced break, with Tuesday's win on home soil just his second this season.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev kicked off his French Open campaign with victory over Jenson Brooksby in three sets.

Tenth seed Schwartzman, who reached the last four in Paris last year, saw off Lu Yen-hsun 6-2 6-2 6-3 in his opening match.

Matteo Berrettini was made to work a little harder for his victory against Taro Daniel, the ninth seed advancing through 6-0 6-4 4-6 6-4.

There was an upset later in the day, though, as number 20 seed Felix Auger Aliassime was beaten in four sets by world number 98 Andreas Seppi.

Jan-Lennard Struff is through to his first final on the ATP Tour after ending Ilya Ivashka's impressive run at the BMW Open in Munich.

Struff had lost in his previous seven semi-final appearances and it appeared the streak may continue when he quickly fell 3-0 behind against his opponent from Belarus.

However, qualifier Ivashka – who had knocked out top seed Alexander Zverev in the previous round – only managed to win two more games in the remainder of a contest that spanned 87 minutes.

A 6-4 6-1 win for Struff sets up a showdown with Nikoloz Basilashvili, who crushed Casper Ruud 6-1 6-2 to progress through from the other half of the draw.

"I am happy to have reached my first final on home soil in Germany and I will try my best tomorrow," seventh seed Struff said after Saturday's match.

Both Basilashvili and Ruud had completed their quarter-final ties earlier on Saturday, but it was the former who coped better with a quick return to action on the clay court, easing to victory in 71 minutes.

At the Estoril Open, Cameron Norrie moved a step closer to a first ATP title after withstanding a barrage of aces to overcome the big-serving Marin Cilic in two sets.

Norrie managed to save five of the six break-point opportunities on his own serve as he eventually prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 7-5. His only previous experience of a final on the ATP Tour came back in 2019, when he lost to Tennys Sandgren at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

"[Marin] was serving great and it was really tricky to get his first serve back. I am fortunate to get through and I am just happy to be in my second final," the Briton said in his on-court interview.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas is the last player standing in his way, the Spaniard battling back after losing his serve in both sets to beat compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1 6-4.

Jan-Lennard Struff and Filip Krajinovic had contrasting routes into the BMW Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

Home favourite Struff made it to the last eight of the clay-court tournament for the fourth time in his career with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (0-7) 6-2 triumph over German countryman Dominik Koepfer, who had little to celebrate on his 27th birthday in Munich.

Struff recovered from 4-2 down to take the first set and racked up four straight games to seal the deciding set. He served 11 aces and staved off five break points in a match lasting two hours and 39 minutes.

"I am very, very happy that I turned around the first set," seventh seed Struff said in his on-court interview. 

"I played a not good second-set tie-break. Before [that] the set was okay, but I couldn't lock into his service games that much.

"I am very happy that I broke him I the third set and I am very happy to be through. Dominik is a good guy and a very good player."

Fourth seed Krajinovic stands in the way of Struff and a last-four berth, with the Serbian handed a walkover after last-16 opponent Yannick Hanfmann pulled out with a neck injury.

Nikoloz Basilashvili, seeded fifth, defeated Daniel Elahi Galan 6-4 6-2 to set up a last-eight clash with lucky loser Norbert Gombos, who overcame Federico Coria 6-4 6-1.

At the Estoril Open there was a battle between music collaborators as top seed Denis Shapovalov faced off against Corentin Moutet.

The duo were welcomed onto the court by the track 'Drip', which they released together last year.

On the court, it was Frenchman Moutet who managed to snare an upset victory in a 6-4 2-6 6-4 triumph against the Canadian, to score a second top-20 win of the year.

"It was a very close match," Moutet said. "I'm lucky that I won at the end. A few points decided the winner."

Next up is Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2 7-6 (7-3).

Cameron Norrie outlasted wildcard Pedro Martinez 4-6 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 to book a quarter-final against second seed Cristian Garin, who never took to the court as opponent Richard Gasquet withdrew with a left adductor problem.

Pablo Carreno Busta got his quest to win a maiden ATP Tour title in his homeland under way with a straight-sets defeat of Mario Vilella Martinez in the Andalucia Open.

Top seed Carreno Busta needed an hour and 38 minutes to dispatch his fellow Spaniard 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 in Marbella on Wednesday.

Carreno Busta won 73 per cent of points on his first serve and saved the only two break points he faced to set up a quarter-final against Soonwoo Kwon, who beat Facundo Bagnis 6-1 6-3.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas was another home contender to progress, getting the better of Ricardas Berankis 6-3 4-6 6-3, while Norbert Gombos ousted eighth seed Federico Delbonis 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-1).

There were no surprises in the Sardegna Open, where all three seeds in action moved into the last eight.

Taylor Fritz, the second seed, saw the back of Andrej Martin 6-2 7-6 (7-4) to set up a meeting with Aljaz Bedene, who beat Egor Gerasimov 6-4 7-6 (7-5).

Fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff needed only 81 minutes to defeat qualifier Liam Broady 6-4 6-2, while Nikoloz Basilashvili rallied from a set – and five match points – down to see off Jozef Kovalik 4-6 6-4 7-5.

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