NEW YORK: 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 US 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.
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.
World number four Carlos Alcaraz used his mighty forehand to swat aside American Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in a superb third-round performance. The Spanish teen rocketed to stardom as the youngest man to reach the quarter-final at Flushing Meadows last year and looks on track for another memorable run after making 46 winners to just 10 from his opponent inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The third seed has enjoyed a terrific 2022, winning in Miami and Barcelona before downing a fearsome trio of Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev to win Madrid.
The party would be short-lived, however, as Alcaraz won the next six games in ruthless fashion.
World number one Iga Swiatek dug her way out of a second set hole to notch a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Lauren Davis and reach the fourth round for the second straight year.
The French Open champion fired an unreturnable serve out wide to capture the first set but fell behind 4-1 in the second as Davis raised her level.
Despite the deficit the feisty Pole stubbornly refused to drop her first set of the tournament, winning a tense 16-shot rally to set up break points at 4-4, which she converted when Davis whacked a backhand into the net.
The top seed admitted she was not at her best during the two-hour night match on Louis Armstrong Stadium despite reeling off the match's final five games.
Next up for Swiatek is a meeting with Germany's Jule Niemeier, who defeated China's Qinwen 6-4, 7-6(5).
American Danielle Collins came out all guns blazing, hammering 52 winners past experienced Alize Cornet of France in a 6-4, 7-6(9) victory to book her spot in the fourth round.
In a classic contest between the contrasting styles of attack and defence, the 28-year-old Collins came out on top by firing rocket groundstrokes from both her forehand and backhand in front of an appreciative crowd in the day's final match at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Collins, who finished runner-up at the Australian Open this year, will next face sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka in a battle of hard hitters for a spot in the quarter-finals.
Sabalenka spent two hours and 15 minutes on court in her previous round, during which she rallied from 5-1 down in the second set and saved two match points to beat Estonian Kaia Kanepi 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.
It was a much easier outing on Saturday evening for the Belarusian on the final match on Grandstand court.
The former world number two, a semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows last year, steamrolled qualifier Clara Burel 6-0, 6-2 in just 68 minutes, hitting 27 winners past the 21-year-old from France.
Croatia's Marin Cilic had to work hard for a 7-6(11), 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-5 victory over Great Britain's Daniel Evans to make the fourth round for the first time since 2019.
The 2014 champion blasted 74 winners to set up a meeting against No. 3 seed Carlos Alcaraz, who was a straight-sets winner over American Jenson Brooksby earlier Saturday.
British number one Cameron Norrie chipped away at Holger Rune's defences to win 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 and reach the fourth round for the first time with new confidence on the Grand Slam stage.
The 27-year-old Wimbledon semi-finalist had already beaten Rune twice this year and showed he had not lost the winning formula in sizzling conditions, making 22 unforced errors to his 19-year-old Danish opponent's 43.
Rune saved 11 of the 18 break points he faced in the match but was left without answers in the third set when Norrie, who had hold of the momentum, stormed through in 29 minutes without dropping a single first-serve point.
He next faces ninth seed Andrey Rublev, who survived an epic duel with Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(7).
The Russian saved 13 of 17 breaks across the match in a tremendous defensive display but failed to clinch it on three match points late in the fifth set, as hard-hitting Shapovalov got a critical break to send it into a tiebreak.
Rublev overcame a rowdy Grandstand crowd firmly on his opponent's side to clinch it on the fifth match point before collapsing to the court and burying his face in his hands.
Czech Petra Kvitova sent across 14 aces to down Spanish ninth seed Garbine Muguruza 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(10) in a thrilling third-round duel.
Kvitova was in good form headed into Flushing Meadows after reaching the Cincinnati final and reiterated her claim as one of tennis' great fighters when she saved match point twice late in the third set to push the affair into the tiebreak.
The twice Wimbledon champion said she was inspired by 23-times Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, whose emotional farewell to the US Open with a gritty, third-round loss to Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday overshadowed the entire tournament. Agencies