PARIS — Again far from his best, Roger Federer still managed to win at the French Open. Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, the top-ranked man and woman, had much easier paths.
Federer, the 2009 champion at Roland Garros, was pushed to four sets Friday for the second straight match, this time beating Nicolas Mahut of France, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5, in the third round.
"I think for bigger guys it's about, if you're able to move them around enough and they have to defend time and time again, this is maybe where you can expose some of their weaknesses potentially," Federer said. "I thought he did well. (I) struggled a little bit, but overall obviously I'm happy I came through."
Federer improved his record number of Grand Slam match victories 235. The 16-time Grand Slam champion is trying to become the first man over 30 years old to win a major title since Andre Agassi in 2003 at the Australian Open.
Djokovic advanced to the fourth round by beating Nicolas Devilder of France, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Sloane Stephens of the U.S. reached the fourth round, beating France's Mathilde Johansson, 6-3, 6-2. Azarenka advanced to the fourth round and Maria Sharapova to the third round.