Rafael Nadal: 'Richard Gasquet is a great player, I respect him a lot'

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Rafael Nadal: 'Richard Gasquet is a great player, I respect him a lot'

Born in 1986, Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet were the youngsters to beat at the beginning of the new Millennium. Rafa and Richard made massive steps in their first years on the Tour before the Spaniard left the Frenchman behind and continued his path towards tennis glory.

Starting from Estoril 2004, Nadal and Gasquet have played against each other 17 times. Rafa has won all of those for complete domination over his coeval, securing every set against Richard since Toronto 2008! On Thursday night at Roland Garros, Nadal beat Gasquet 6-0, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes, advancing into the third round and securing the 102nd victory in Paris from 104 encounters.

Thus, Rafa became the sixth player with 17 wins over one rival without a defeat, controlling the pace in most of the clash to sail into the last 32 and remain on the title course. Praising Gasquet, Nadal said that the Frenchman is a great player who had a challenging period behind him due to injuries, wishing him all the best in the rest of the season.

Rafa made a furious start and scored seven breaks to control the pace, surviving one loose moment in set number two and recovering quickly to cross the finish line first. Nadal landed 11 winners and three unforced errors in the opening set and claimed it 6-0 in 24 minutes for his 40th bagel at Majors.

Rafael nadal praised Richard Gasquet after beating him at Roland Garros.

The Spaniard forged a 5-2 lead in set number two after only an hour, but instead of bringing the set home, he wasted a set point on the return in game eight and allowed Richard to climb back to 5-5.

Rafa restored the order and grabbed the set with a late break at 6-5 that pushed him closer to the finish line. Richard saved two break chances at 1-2 in set number three before Rafa grabbed a break two games later to move in front.

Marching towards the finish line, Nadal held at 15 in game seven and got the job done with another break at 5-2 to advance and set the Cameron Norrie clash. "Obviously, it's better to beat someone 16 times in a row than to lose the same number of matches.

When you go into a match, and you know you have beaten someone the last 16 times, it's clear that your confidence is a bit higher than when you have a tougher matchup. To be honest, I respect Richard very much; I know how good he is and that he will return after this difficult period.

Today he played smart and was aggressive. For my part, I always go out with the highest respect and the best approach; this is what I do in every round," Rafael Nadal said.