PARIS (AP) – Rafael Nadal’s French Open winning streak reached a record 30 consecutive matches Wednesday.

No. 31 could present more of a challenge.

Trying to become the first player with five championships in a row at Roland Garros, Nadal moved into the third round by beating 72nd-ranked Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

Nadal already had bettered Bjorn Borg’s men’s mark of 28 straight victories at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament; now the Spaniard topped Chris Evert’s overall record of 29, too.

“Very happy for that,” Nadal said, but he also noted that his biggest concern is to “try to be there the second Sunday” – when the men’s final is played.

Up next in that quest: Lleyton Hewitt, a man who won titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and used to be ranked where Nadal is now – at No. 1.

“He’s the man to beat here, and he has been for the last four or five years now. I’ll go out there and play my game, and hopefully I can have one of my best matches,” Hewitt said. “My game can match up well against him sometimes, if I’m executing the way I want to.”

After overcoming his opponent’s 55 aces over five sets in the first round, Hewitt had a much easier time of things Wednesday, when he beat 88th-ranked Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

Hewitt and Nadal have split their eight career meetings. But as the Australian pointed out, he’s 0-3 against Nadal on clay, including a straight-set loss in the fourth round of the 2007 French Open.

“Always, it’s a very tough match to play against Lleyton,” Nadal said. “I have to play well to have chances to win.”

He’s only dropped a total of seven sets during his 30-0 career at the French Open. Against Gabashvili, Nadal was forced to save three break points in the first game of the match – and then only one more the rest of the way.

But Gabashvili is 3-8 at major tournaments, never having gone past the second round. Hewitt brings much more success and much more experience into his encounter with Nadal.

A hip injury forced Hewitt to miss some time from the tour, and his ranking slid from the top 100 for the first time in a decade. He’s currently 48th.

“This is what you do all the hard work for. This is why I’m still playing the game – to put myself in positions like this, to have a crack at the big guys in the biggest tournaments we’ve got,” Hewitt said. “It’s something I thrive on.”


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