Relentless Nadal pummels Gasquet at French Open
The imperious defending champion has now won 34 sets in a row in Paris after sweeping Richard Gasquet aside to reach the fourth round.
Rafael Nadal set a new personal record of consecutive sets won at the French Open in a ruthless third-round hammering of Richard Gasquet on Saturday.
The world number one took another stride towards an 11th title at Roland Garros by blowing Gasquet away in his homeland, winning 6-3 6-2 6-2.
Nadal was imperious on Court Philippe Chatrier, taking just under two hours make it 16 wins out of 16 against the startled Frenchman and book an encounter with Maximilian Marterer.
The top seed - who struck 37 winners and broke six times - surpassed his best tally of 32 sets won on the spin in Paris when he won the second set, only Björn Borg having bettered that with 41.
Nadal and Gasquet are long-time friends, but the Spaniard treated him with disdain in a blistering start, a partisan crowd showing their appreciation for a magnificent forehand winner down the line on the run.
The 'King of Clay' won the first 12 points of the match and looked set for a bagel until Gasquet finally got on the board at 5-1, showing off his elegant one-handed backhand as he won the next two games before an errant backhand ended the set.
Nadal started the second set in a similar fashion to the first, winding up brutal forehands and delivering a volleying masterclass at the net as he raced into a 4-0 lead.
There were groans when Gasquet's backhand let him down and he thudded a forehand into the net to go two sets down, Nadal's 33rd won in a row at a venue where he has been so dominant.
The relentless left-hander continued to give Gasquet the runaround, putting away a volley to break in the first game of the third set.
A ferocious backhand volley at the net put him a double break up and although Gasquet hung in there, an errant groundstroke put him out of his misery and kept Nadal on course to retain his title.
Nadal: "Marterer has power, so he's a dangerous opponent"
The world number one next faces Marterer, who dropped just seven games in beating Jürgen Zopp in straight sets earlier in the day.
"I saw him play. I saw him play the other day against Shapovalov," Nadal said. "And I saw him play a little bit against Zverev in Munich a couple of weeks ago.
"He's a player that has a good potential. He's a player that has a good serve, good forehand. He hits the ball with big top-spin.
"He has power, so he's a dangerous opponent. He's playing well. He won very easy today, no? Being in that round, winning good matches. He's of course playing well.
"I, of course, need to take care about what's going on. I hope to be ready to play a good match.
"I think I'm improving, too, every day, playing better and better. And that's my goal and my way.
"I have another opportunity to practice tomorrow, to keep finding the right feelings, and then try to play the best match possible on Monday."
Nadal  bt Gasquet  6-3 6-2-6-2
Nadal – 37/16
Gasquet – 19/24
Nadal – 3/2
Gasquet – 8/1
BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 6/9
Gasquet – 1/2
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Nadal – 61
Gasquet – 55
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Nadal – 84/70
Gasquet – 58/41
Nadal – 93
Gasquet – 57
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