Rafael Nadal avoided any more on-court mishaps as he defeated Richard Gasquet for the 18th consecutive time to move through to the fourth round of the US Open.
The former junior rivals first played at tour level back in 2004 and Nadal has won every encounter across 18 years.
Gasquet has not won a set since 2008 and for more than an hour even a game was beyond him. He eventually stopped the rot at 6-0 3-0, accepting the crowd’s acclaim, and at least made a fight of it in the third before going down 6-0 6-1 7-5.
After being dealt a blow on the nose with his own racket in his second-round victory over Fabio Fognini, it was smooth sailing this time for Nadal, who was happy with his step up in performance.
“It’s a little bit bigger than usual but it’s OK, the nose is still there,” he said with a smile.
“Three matches already, I increased a little bit the level today so that’s important for me I think. I’m happy for that against a very good friend like Richard. I need to keep playing better and better to have chances to go through.”
Nadal, who still has not lost a grand slam match this year, next plays American Frances Tiafoe, who reached the fourth round for a third straight year with a 7-6 (7) 6-4 6-4 victory over Diego Schwartzman.
One to remember in Grandstand!
Andrey Rublev is into Round 4. pic.twitter.com/Py8FVPyOHk
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2022
Third seed Carlos Alcaraz continued to scythe his way through the draw, seeing off American Jenson Brooksby 6-3 6-3 6-3 on Saturday, while ninth seed Andrey Rublev came through an epic tussle with Denis Shapovalov.
It went all the way to a deciding tie-break, with Rublev finally winning 6-4 2-6 6-7 (3) 6-4 7-6 (7) after four hours and eight minutes.
He next meets seventh seed Cameron Norrie while Alcaraz will play former champion Marin Cilic.