Rafael Nadal handed old foe Richard Gasquet a Flushing Meadows mugging on Saturday, walloping the Frenchman 6-0 6-1 7-5 to ease into the U.S. Open fourth round.
Losing to Nadal is nothing new for Gasquet who is now 0-18 against the Spaniard, but seldom over the years has the Frenchman absorbed such a beating.
Nadal is always a favourite in New York but such was the second seed’s dominance that even the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd tried to lift Gasquet’s spirit as he fell behind 6-0 3-0.
When Gasquet finally held serve in the 10th game the crowd gave a mighty roar as the 36-year-old French veteran raised his arms into the air in triumph.
The beating, however, quickly resumed with Nadal sweeping the next five games to take the second set and a 2-0 lead in the third.
At that point Nadal took his foot off the gas, and when Gasquet broke the 22-times Grand Slam winner to level the third set at 2-2, it earned him a standing ovation.
It took a few games for Nadal to get back in gear but the outcome was never in doubt, the Spaniard collecting his seventh break of the match to go up 6-5 then coolly holding serve to clinch a convincing win.
Up next for Nadal is American hope Frances Tiafoe who advanced with a 7-6(7) 6-4 6-4 win over Argentine 14th seed Diego Schwartzman.