Nadal breezes past Frenchman Gasquet to secure fourth-round spot at US Open
New York, Sep. 4 (IANS): 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.”
Swiatek defeats Davis
World No.1 Iga Swiatek of Poland moved into the fourth round of the US Open on Sunday (IST) defeating American Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-4, keeping the two-time French Open champion on course for her maiden singles title at Flushing Meadows.
The top-ranked Swiatek was tested in the match but she stepped up during crucial moments to equal her best performance at the season-ending Grand Slam. The Pole had also reached the fourth round last year.
Swiatek, 21, is trying to become the first player since Serena Williams to win seven titles in a single year; the now-retired American having achieved the feat eight years ago, when she also became the last No.1 seed to take the US Open title.
Swiatek has played amazing tennis this year, with her 37-match winning streak earning her the French Open crown and WTA 1000s titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.
“I could not find my rhythm today,” Swiatek said about the tough match on Sunday. “She (Davis) played pretty smart. I’m pretty happy at the end that I could put balls in. I’m just trying to enjoy any match, even when I’m not perfect,” Swaitek was quoted as saying by wtatennis.com.
The summer hard-court season, though, hasn’t been that great for Swiatek, who has won just four of seven matches.
She came out firing against Davis, hitting nine winners, including two aces, in the first two games. The attacking game, combined her impeccable defence was too much for Davis to take in.
Swiatek thus remains undefeated against players ranked outside the top-100 in Grand Slam play (15-0). She’s won 53 matches this season and is already closing in on the most recent standard, 57, set three years ago by Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, according to WTA.
Swiatek, who became the No.1-ranked player in the world in April after Barty announced her shock retirement, complimented Serena Williams’ staying power over the years in such a competitive environment.
“Being in this situation (for five months now), I know how tough it is sometimes to find balance and to actually stay focused on the proper things. I think she (Serena) did very well. I have huge appreciation because it’s one of my goals actually to be consistent throughout my whole career, staying top-10 for a long, long time.
“She was No.1 for a long, long time, so it’s pretty crazy. For sure, I understand it little bit more right now, how much work she has put into it,” added Swiatek.
Swiatek will take on Germany’s Jule Niemeier in the fourth round. A quarterfinalist at Wimbledon earlier in the summer, Niemeier defeated Zheng Qinwen 6-4, 7-6(5) to make the Round of 16 in her tournament debut.