Perfect Nadal, facing Swiatek in the fourth round of the US Open


Overpowered: Rafael Nadal reacts on a point against Richard Gasquet © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / JAMIE SQUIRE

New York (AFP), September 3 – Rafael Nadal beat close friend Richard Gasquet for the 18th time to reach the fourth round of the US Open on Saturday as world number one Iga Swiatek made the last 16 for a second consecutive year.

Four-time champion Nadal took his record over Gasquet to a perfect 18-0 with a 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 win to stay on course for a 23rd Grand Slam title.

Nadal has now won 34 consecutive sets against Frenchman Gasquet who he played for the first time as a junior.

On Saturday he was barely troubled, winning the first nine games of the contest before Gasquet was on the board.

The next Australian and French Open champion is 22nd seed Frances Tiafoe for a place in the quarter-finals.

“He’s a great player, very charismatic, very fast,” Nadal said of the American.

Tiafoe made the last 16 for a third straight year beating Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-4.

Nadal, 36, showed no ill effects from the bloody nose he suffered when he accidentally bounced his racquet in his face in the second round.

“It’s a little bigger than usual but that’s okay,” he joked.

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– Alcaraz breaks shoe –

In demand: Petra Kvitova signs autographs after beating Garbine Muguruza © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / JAMIE SQUIRE

Carlos Alcaraz, widely regarded as Nadal’s Grand Slam heir apparent, secured a 47th victory despite one of his shoes breaking.

The 19-year-old third seed beat Jenson Brooksby of the United States 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on the back of 46 winners.

Alcaraz, quarter-finalist in 2021, managed to break one of his tennis shoes while slipping to reach a ball in the middle of the match.

“This is the third time I’ve done this. As you can see, I do a lot of sliding,” he said.

Alcaraz will next face 2014 champion Marin Cilic who fired 26 aces and 74 winners in total ahead of Britain’s Dan Evans in a 7-6 (13/11), 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7 win. -5.

Britain’s seventh seed Cameron Norrie made it through to the fourth round for the first time with a comfortable 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 win over Danish teenager Holger Rune.

He will next face Russian ninth seed Andrey Rublev who needed five match points to defeat Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 7-6 ( 10/7).

World number one Swiatek beat Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-4.

Swiatek came from 1-4 down in the second set to win five straight against the American who called a medical timeout in the first set to have her blood pressure taken.

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The 21-year-old Pole will face German Wimbledon quarter-finalist Jule Niemeier for a place in the last eight.

Swiatek has now won three matches in a row for the first time since winning her second French Open in June.

“It’s not like I lost my confidence or anything. I always know anything can happen at these tournaments,” she said.

Petra Kvitova defeated ninth-seeded Garbine Muguruza after saving two match points.

Kvitova went 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (12/10) and will face Jessica Pegula of the United States for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova said she was inspired by Serena Williams when the American legend saved five match points before finally being knocked out on Friday.

“I watched Serena and it was amazing how she was saving match points, so I tried to do the same today,” Kvitova said.

Muguruza’s loss, her sixth in seven encounters against the Czech, left just four of the tournament’s top 10 female seeds.

Sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka, who reached the semi-finals in 2021, edged out French qualifier Clara Burel 6-0, 6-2 in just 68 minutes. She will face Danielle Collins.

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Pegula, the eighth seed, ended Chinese qualifier Yuan Yue’s run 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-0.

Victoria Azarenka beat Petra Martic 6-3, 6-0 to set up a last-16 clash with 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova who beat Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

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