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 to 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 also advanced to the fourth round, extending his Grand Slam winning streak to 24 matches by beating Nicolas Devilder of France, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, in a match that ended just as the sun was setting.
No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, and No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina also won, while No. 11 Gilles Simon lost.
Sloane Stephens of the US reached the fourth round, beating Mathilde Johansson of France, 6-3, 6-2. Of the eight teenagers in this draw, Stephens, 19, was the only one to even make it to the third round.
She will next play No. 6 Sam Stosur, the 2010 runner-up, who defeated Nadia Petrova, 6-3, 6-3.
Azarenka advanced to the fourth round and Maria Sharapova to the third. But the big surprises came early in the day when third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic were eliminated.
Two days after beating Venus Williams, Radwanska was routed by 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 6-2.
Radwanska has been having a stellar year, winning three titles and moving up to a career-high No. 3 ranking last month. But she is the only player in the top 10 who has never reached a Grand Slam semifinal.
Against Kuznetsova, however, Radwanska has struggled. She is 3-10 against the Russian, including her only two losses in tournament finals.
Before Friday’s match, Radwanska had been 38-7 in 2012, with six losses coming against top-ranked Victoria Azarenka.
Three days after scoring a “double bagel’’ in the first round, the second-seeded Sharapova defeated Ayumi Morita of Japan, 6-1, 6-1.
Sharapova has won three major titles but needs the French to complete a career Grand Slam. Last year, she lost in the semis.
Also in the third round, the 13th-seeded Ivanovic lost to Sara Errani of Italy, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3. It was only the second time in 39 matches that Errani has beaten a player ranked in the top 15.