May 30, 2015 / 7:54 PM / in 2 years

Ferrer through but Spanish brigade on the slide

PARIS (Reuters) - Spain are experiencing their worst French Open campaign for almost 20 years despite having Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer through to the fourth round.

David Ferrer of Spain plays a shot to Simone Bolelli of Italy during their men's singles match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, May 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

The duo, who met in the 2013 final, are the only two male Spaniards in the last 16, a rarity for the claycourt specialists who last suffered an annus horribilis in Paris in 1996 when Francisco Clavet was their only representative at the same stage.

While nine-times champion Nadal advanced with an uneventful three-set win over Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, seventh seed Ferrer needed five sets to beat Italian Simone Bolelli.

A generation shift could explain Spain’s mediocre year, according to veteran Ferrer.

“Tommy Robredo, Nicolas Almagro...have been injured and the Spaniards had to play against strong opponents,” the 33-year-old Ferrer told a news conference after his 6-3 1-6 5-7 6-0 6-1 triumph.

“From time to time you have five or six Spanish players. But of course we are getting older and there’s a new generation coming in.”

Five of the top seven Spaniards in the APT rankings are 30-plus while the best hope on the women’s side at Roland Garros is Garbine Muguruza.

The 21-year-old is the last Spanish female left in the draw and will play Italian Flavia Pennetta on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals.

Editing by Tony Jimenez

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