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US Open 2022: Ruthless Rafael Nadal pounds Richard Gasquet to enter last 16

US Open 2022

NEW YORK, September 4: Rafael Nadal demolished Richard Gasquet in ruthless fashion to march into the last 16 of the US Open on Saturday with his 18th straight victory over the French veteran.
Second seed Nadal improved his record against Gasquet to a perfect 18-0 with a clinical beatdown of his close friend on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
Nadal’s 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 victory in 2hr 17min sees him advance to a meeting with American 22nd seed Frances Tiafoe on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.
“He’s a great player, he’s very charismatic, very fast,” Nadal said of Tiafoe.
“He can play very aggressive, I need to keep improving to keep playing better and better to have chances to get through.”
Nadal was left with a bloody nose on Thursday when he accidentally struck himself in the face with his racquet but reported no lingering effects on Saturday.
“It’s a little bit bigger than usual but it’s okay,” Nadal said. “The nose is still there.”
Nadal and Gasquet, who came up through the ranks of junior tennis together, first met as professionals on clay in Estoril 2004, with Nadal winning in three sets.
Since that first encounter, the duo’s head-to-head record has been a story of unrelenting dominance by Nadal.
Gasquet has only taken four sets off the Spanish master, the last of which came at the Canadian Masters in 2008.
Saturday’s encounter again followed the same script, with Nadal showing no mercy as he raced to a crushing win.
Nadal used his blistering groundstrokes to dominate Gasquet, unfurling a series of 35 pinpoint winners into the corners to torment his opponent.
Gasquet almost got an early confidence boost in the opening set, when in the first game he grabbed three break points at 0-40.
But Nadal reeled off five straight points to hold serve and that was pretty much as good as it got for the French world No.91, whose best performance in New York was a semi-final appearance in 2013.
After taking the first set 6-0, Nadal threatened to repeat the margin in the second until Gasquet finally held serve for the first time in the match to make it 3-1.
That earned Gasquet one of the biggest cheers of the night from the Arthur Ashe crowd, the Frenchman raising an arm aloft to acknowledge the applause.
Normal service resumed swiftly thereafter however, with Gasquet being broken again to go 5-1 down before Nadal held for the set.
Gasquet put up stronger resistance in the third, recovering to break back after dropping serve to keep the match on serve at 5-5.
But Gasquet wilted in the 11th game, with Nadal breaking for a 6-5 lead before closing out the win.
Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova reach last 16, Carlos Alcaraz storms in
World number one Iga Swiatek made the last 16 of the US Open for a second successive year with a 6-3, 6-4 win over unseeded Lauren Davis, while Carlos Alcaraz claimed a season-leading 47th win despite breaking one of his shoes.
Widely-regarded as Nadal’s Grand Slam heir apparent, the 19-year-old third seed Alcaraz defeated Jenson Brooksby of the United States 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on the back of 46 winners.
Alcaraz, a quarter-finalist in 2021, managed to break one of his tennis shoes as he slid to reach a ball mid-match. “It’s the third time that I have done this. As you can see, I do a lot of sliding,” he said.
Alcaraz next faces 2014 champion Marin Cilic who fired 26 aces and 74 winners in total past Britain’s Dan Evans in a 7-6 (13/11), 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7-5 win.
Meanwhile, Frances Tiafoe made the last 16 for a third successive year by seeing off Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-4 and British seventh seed Cameron Norrie also clinched his third-round match with a comfortable 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 win over Danish teenager Holger Rune.
Norrie next faces Russian ninth seed Andrey Rublev who needed five match points to see off Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 7-6 (10/7).
Swiatek came back from 1-4 down in the second set to reel off five successive games against the American who called a medical time out in the first set to have her blood pressure taken.
The 21-year-old Pole will face either Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen or Jule Niemeier of Germany for a place in the quarter-finals.
Petra Kvitova downed ninth-seeded Garbine Muguruza after saving two match points.
Kvitova came through 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (12/10) and will take on Jessica Pegula of the United States for a quarter-final place.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova said she had drawn inspiration from Serena Williams when the American legend saved five match points before eventually being eliminated on Friday.
“I watched Serena and it was amazing how she was saving match points, so I tried to do the same today,” said two-time US Open quarter-finalist Kvitova.
Muguruza’s defeat, her sixth in seven meetings against the Czech, left only four of the top 10 women’s seeds in the tournament.
Sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka, who made the semi-finals in 2021, brushed aside French qualifier Clara Burel, 6-0, 6-2 in just 68 minutes.
Pegula, the eighth seed, ended the run of Chinese qualifier Yuan Yue, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-0.
Three-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka eased past Petra Martic 6-3, 6-0 to set up a last-16 clash with 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova who downed Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. (AFP)

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