Until Rafael Nadal is in the final here, which will be played a week today, the Spaniard will not listen to talk that he can win his seventh French Open title and break the record he shares with Bjorn Borg.

The world No 2 will discuss himself only as being among the favourites, putting world No 1 Novak Djokovic and former No 1 Roger Federer in the same bracket.

In public, that is.

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In private, Nadal must know that he is playing some of his best tennis at the right time, on his best surface, in a place where he has lost only once – and that was when he was struggling with a knee injury.

Yesterday's 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Eduardo Schwank took longer than the score would suggest, but, on his 26th birthday, there was never a moment's doubt that the six-times champion would win.

The crowd inside Court Philippe Chatrier, who have tended to take Federer's side against Nadal in the past, sang happy birthday at the end, and the Spaniard lapped it up.

Nadal hit 32 winners and made just 16 unforced errors, running Schwank ragged. The world No 192 had beaten Ivo Karlovic and Florian Mayer to get to round three, but he was made to look like a junior.

"I started the tournament well," Nadal said. "I am in the second week, that's the important thing.

"It doesn't matter if I win my first three matches easily, because you have another match the next day."

When Nadal's camp looked at the draw, the name of Milos Raonic would have stood out as a potential danger.

The young Canadian possesses a huge serve and a big game that has troubled the world's best already in his short career.

But Juan Monaco's 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Raonic yesterday took one obstacle out of Nadal's path, and while the Argentine is a fine player, he is unlikely to have the firepower to trouble the Spaniard in full flow, even though Nadal declared: "Now it starts – I have a very big confrontation to come against Monaco.

"He's playing great, having a great season and it will be a tough match."

Should the seedings go to plan, Nadal would face Andy Murray in the semi-finals but David Ferrer is showing the kind of form that could scupper the Scot's hopes, if he gets past Richard Gasquet in round four.

Yesterday, Ferrer dropped just six points in the first eight games against Mikhail Youzhny, winning a stunning 22 points in a row at one stage, before completing a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 victory.

The Spaniard was so much in the zone that he missed Youzhny drawing the word "Sorri" in the clay when he finally held serve in the third game of the second set, an effort that drew an ovation from the crowd on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"There were a lot of people there, that's why I wrote 'sorri'," he explained. "Because I couldn't show them a nice game. The fans came to see a beautiful match but I simply could not give them that."

"I didn't see it," the sixth seed said. "I was very focused in the match. But it was funny. It is funny now, because I won. I'm very happy.

"It's important for me to feel good. I won these matches in three sets.

"There will be moments that will be more difficult, that I'll have to manage correctly. I'll have to live up to these tricky moments.

"For the time being, everything is OK. But it's going to be more and more difficult as we go."

Another Spaniard was almost as impressive. Nicolas Almagro, the 12th seed, pulled away from Leonardo Mayer after a tough first set to record a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Almagro will now play Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, a straight-sets winner over Frenchman Julien Benneteau.