New York [US], September 4 (ANI): Rafael Nadal took on his long-time friend Richard Gasquet in the third round of the US Open on Sunday, defeating him in straight sets 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Nadal and Gasquet, who had the same month and day of birth in June 1986, reconnected at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for what would be their 18th career meeting. Over time, not much has changed in terms of results. With a commanding 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 victory in the third round of the US Open, Nadal extended his perfect career head-to-head record against his former junior foe to 18-0.
These three victories have all happened at Flushing Meadows. The former world No. 7's stay was brought to a halt by Nadal in the first round in 2009 and the quarterfinals in 2013. Since their rivalry began in 2008, the Spaniard has won 34 straight sets.
Speaking in the post-match interview, the 36-year-old termed the night matches at the US Open the best in the world and that he enjoyed playing with his best friend.
The Spaniard said, "I always say that night sessions here in New York are the best in the world without a doubt," said Nadal, who overcame eight double faults to advance. "I increased a little bit the level today. That's important for me. When the tournament keeps going, I'm able to rise a little bit. I'm happy for that against a very good friend like Richard."
The opening set against Italy's Fabio Fognini in Round 2 was among the worst of Rafael Nadal's career, and it was one that he undoubtedly wanted to avoid. (He made a comeback and won, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.) And that's exactly what happened, as the record-tying 22-time major champion breezed through the opening round in only 42 minutes.
It took Gasquet an hour and ten minutes to score in the second set while trailing 1-3, but he was unable to produce any winners in the middle period. With the fans supporting him, Gasquet rallied to equal the third set at 2-all after trailing by two sets and a break. But after being broken for the seventh time while serving at 5-all, Nadal won the game in two hours and sixteen minutes.
With victories at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal is now a perfect 22-0 in Grand Slam competition this year. His only hiccup was a semifinal withdrawal at Wimbledon due to an abdominal rupture, which cost him a chance at the Grand Slam. With a fifth US Open victory, Nadal would tie Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, and Jimmy Connors for the most in the Open Era.
Nadal sets up an exciting Round-of-16 matchup with Frances Tiafoe, who earlier in the day defeated Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-4. Despite not having met since 2019, the Spaniard has a 2-0 advantage over the American. (ANI)