US Open Day 6: Rafael Nadal mauls Gasquet again; Swiatek, Alcaraz remain undisturbed; Kvitova, Muguruza put on a show

Few tennis rivalries, if any at all, are as one-sided as that between Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet. The duo came up on the juniors together and have struck up a good friendship off court, but on court, having won each of their 17 previous meetings, Nadal’s dominance has overshadowed the Frenchman massively.

On Saturday night at the US Open, it was no different, as Nadal defeated Gasquet 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 in routine fashion. There were concerns about the Spaniard’s level, especially after the first two sets against Fognini in the second round, but his dominant display suggests he’s on his way back to being at his best.

Gasquet was blown away in the first two sets in just over an hour, and his third-set resurgence was admirable, but the match was always on Nadal’s racquet. Up next is his sternest test so far: home favourite and in-form Frances Tiafoe. He could push Nadal to the limit.

Swiatek, Alcaraz cruise into the second week

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek maybe a strong title favourite, but she isn’t playing with the weight of that pressure on her shoulders.

The Pole raced past America’s Lauren Davis 6-3, 6-4 in the most routine fashion possible. There was a hiccup in the middle – she found herself 1-4 down in the second set – but she then went on to drop only four points to win 5 consecutive games and wrap up the result.

Elsewhere, third seed Carlos Alcaraz got past the tricky assignment of Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The Spaniard has needed to produce his best, in moments, to get over the line in his previous matches, but this was a consistently higher level to knock out the American.

Alcaraz is defending his quarterfinal finish from last year in New York, and will undoubtedly look to go a few steps higher. He’s been handed a relatively tough draw, the difficult end of which begins with his fourth round against Marin Cilic.

Kvitova downs Muguruza in one of the matches of the tournament

Former multiple Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova met in a blockbuster clash on Lauis Armstrong Stadium on Saturday. The only shame was that it came as early as the third round.

The Spaniard, who has had a really poor 2022, narrowly outplayed Kvitova in the first set, before a single break of serve in the second was enough to level the proceedings. Muguruza came out of the blocks in the third and took a 5-2 lead, before Kvitova’s resurgence took the set to a tiebreaker, which the Czech narrowly won 12-10, to round out a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 victory.

Kvitova is peaking at the right time, having reached the final in Cincinnati, and with a fourth round against eighth seed Jessica Pegula, and potential quarterfinal with Swiatek, looming, she’s one to watch.

Other notable results

Jannik Sinner def. Brandon Nakashima 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Sinner has had plenty of tricky assignments in the first week in New York, and navigating another one with maturity would only do wonders for his confidence. Big pick to go deep.

Andrey Rublev def. Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6

The kind of matchup that most would tennis fans would think is too early to take place in the third round, but is indicative of the duo’s form this year. Rublev did well to come back from 2-1 down, even if he failed to capitalise on two match points in the fifth. Entertaining one.

Karolina Pliskova def. Belinda Bencic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3

Bencic was one of the hyped players in the women’s draw, but she came up against a resolute Pliskova, whose comeback was reminiscent of a former World No. 1. She’s slipped under the radar and could cause trouble for the top contenders next week, starting with a mouthwatering clash with Victoria Azarenka on Monday.

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