Nadal, without mercy to eighths

Rafael Nadal during the match. / EFE

third round

The Balearic destroys Gasquet to get into the second week of the US Open for the twelfth time in his career

Rafael Nadal already has a new record. The most decanted rivalry in the history of tennis belongs to him. He has beaten Richard Gasquet eighteen times, without allowing a single loss. His last victory this Saturday, in the third round of the US Open by 6-0, 6-1 and 7-5, being one of the most unbalanced of his career. A real beating that leaves the rivalry at 18-0, at the level of Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils, with the Serbian also clearly dominating.

Nadal needed this type of match after two rounds full of doubts and in which he had dropped sets too easily. He needed a match in which he felt superior and dominant and in which he could run unopposed. Gasquet, an old acquaintance since they were children, acted as an antidote to the shadows of the Spaniard, who brushed off the rust of the first matches and showed that he was ready for the important rounds of the last Grand Slam of the season.

After acknowledging that against Fabio Fognini he played one of the worst game starts of his career, Nadal gave himself the opportunity to play one more game. Because what differentiates Nadal, Federer and Djokovic from the rest of mortals is his ability to carry out matches in which his level is low. In this way, by also winning the matches in which they play poorly, they give themselves the opportunity to stay alive in the tournaments and to be able to play better in the next match. And so it was with Gasquet.

The level of the Balearic had nothing to do with the match against the Italian. He was light years away from the erratic and poorly concentrated Nadal in the duel against Fognini and went over the Frenchman, who, in addition to having won eighteen times in his career, has taken the last 34 sets. He has food for the Frenchman's morale, who needed an hour and ten minutes to win his first game of the match.

Nadal inflicted the fourth donut of their rivalry in the first set and won the first nine games of the match. When Gasquet managed to snag his first game, he raised his arms to the cheers of the crowd. He took a weight off his shoulders, but he did not turn the tide of the contest. Nadal recovered with three consecutive games and put on the scoreboard a 6-0 and 6-1 that flirted with equaling his most convincing victory in the history of the Grand Slams, the one he achieved in 2017 at Roland Garros against Nikoloz Basilashvili when he only left a game

He continued with the dynamic at the start of the third set, he went 2-0 and clouded the match while the Frenchman let go. He was not fine on serve, which he gave in for the first time at the mercy of some all-too-common double faults - he committed eight in the match - and allowed Gasquet to win three games in a row. The easy victory was blurred and Nadal had to fight and sweat until he took it 7-5.

The next rival of the Balearic Islands will be the American Frances Tiafoe, who defeated the Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (7), 6-4 and 6-4. It is the third time that Tiafoe has reached the round of 16 of the US Open, his top, and it will be the third time that he has faced Nadal, who dominates him in the 'head to head' 2-0, both matches in 2019. Carlos Alcaraz's rival in the second round was also revealed during the night. It will be Croatian Marin Cilic, who beat British Dan Evans in four sets and will meet the Murcian for the third time this year, with victories for Alcaraz in Miami and Cincinnati.

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