Spanish stalwart Rafael Nadal, bidding for a record-extending 23rd singles Grand Slam title, cruised into the US Open fourth round with a 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 victory against world No. 7 Richard Gasquet of France inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday (IST).
The 37-year-old Nadal, who was tested in his second-round clash by Italy’s Fabio Fognini, faced no such issues against Gasquet as the Spaniard won his 18th consecutive match against the Frenchman.
“My best match in the tournament… Easy to say that because the other day was tough. But, yeah, important improvement. But I need to keep going. It’s a good victory for me. Straight sets for the first time. Third set (was) a challenge. He increased the level,” Nadal, bidding for his fifth US Open trophy, was quoted as saying by atptour.com.
“I went through some difficult moments. That’s something that is good, that I went through that and (was) safe (in those) moments with positive feelings. Happy to be in the fourth round, without a doubt.”
Nadal won the first nine games of the two hour, 17-minute clash before Gasquet got his side of the scoreboard ticking, thanks to a Nadal return error.
Gasquet holds the record for most losses against Nadal without a win (18). Second on the list is another Frenchman, Paul-Henri Mathieu, who lost all 10 of his clashes against the left-handed Nadal.
Nadal will next play American Frances Tiafoe. Tiafoe overcame Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-4.
“I thought it was a hell of a match. Especially that first set, one of the craziest sets I’ve played in my career,” Tiafoe said. “It had everything in it. Down two breaks, serving again at 6-5, me down 6/3 in the breaker. Unbelievable how I even won the set.”
Nadal leads the ATP head-to-head record against Tiafoe 2-0.
“Second week against a great player like Frances, I need to be ready to play and to raise my level,” Nadal said. “I hope to be able to make that happen. I know it’s the right moment to make an improvement if I want to keep having chances to keep going on the tournament.”
(Inputs from IANS)