PARIS, June 2 (Reuters) - The home contingent suffered the grim reality of familiar failure at Roland Garros when the remaining big hopes in the men’s draw were dumped out of the French Open on Saturday, although they did bow out in contrasting fashion.
Richard Gasquet had virtually no chance against claycourt machine Rafa Nadal and was demolished, while Gael Monfils wasted four match points in a five-set defeat by Belgian David Goffin.
French number one Lucas Pouille was also sent packing after going down in straight sets, albeit having put up moe of a fight than Gasquet, against hard-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov.
Only 87th ranked Pierre-Hugues Herbert still has a chance of reaching the last 16 but he faces ninth-seeded American John Isner later on Saturday.
If he fails, it will be the first time since 2007 that there will be no Frenchman in the fourth round competing for the Musketeers Cup, which was last lifted by a local player in 1983 when Yannick Noah beat Mats Wilander.
Monfils came closest with match points in the fourth set, but on each occasion eighth seed Goffin served perfectly and survived to set up a decider, which he won easily as his French opponent appeared to lose his focus.
Monfils at least had the excuse of coming back to the circuit from injury only a month ago.
The 15th-seeded Pouille was supposed to be in perfect shape but looked exhausted after two sets against Khachanov, who won 6-3 7-5 6-3 in another rain-interrupted match for the Frenchman.
“Physically there were no problems,” said Pouille. “It’s rather mental. I played late, I played long matches and it’s a shame that I wasn’t able to conclude over one day a single match.
“I think that I’m putting a lot of pressure (on myself), and it’s hard for me to actually unfold my game. But I don’t have a true explanation.”
On Friday, Gilles Simon was clueless against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, losing 6-3 6-1 6-3 without putting up a decent fight.
Gasquet at least could hide behind the fact that he was facing the best claycourt player of all time in top seed Nadal, losing 6-3 6-2 6-2 to his old friend.
He did, however, lose the first 12 points of the match on Court Philippe Chatrier.
“His forehand comes out very strongly. I started badly. I didn’t have many focal points on the court,” said Gasquet.
“But whatever. He was stronger than I was.” (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)