1 Sep 2019

Nadal cruises through to the fourth round

7:30 pm on 1 September 2019

Rafael Nadal has moved ominously into the last 16 of the US Open in New York.

Rafa Nadal

Rafa Nadal Photo: Norbert Scanella / Panoramic

The Spanish second seed has made light work of South Korean qualifier Hyeon Chung, winning their third-round match 6-3 6-4 6-2 in just under two hours.

In the women's draw, defending champion Naomi Osaka brought American teen Coco Gauff's captivating run to a swift end with a 6-3 6-0 win to secure her spot in the fourth round.

World number one Osaka, who backed up last year's New York triumph with a win at the Australian Open, simply overwhelmed her 15-year-old opponent in the marquee matchup under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.

Gauff, who stunned the tennis world by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon, committed seven double faults and was error prone throughout the match.

Up next for Osaka will be Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic, who beat Estonian Anett Kontaveit earlier on Saturday

With fitness doubts hanging over defending champion and world No.1 Novak Djokovic, and third seed Roger Federer looking susceptible in his earlier rounds, Nadal must sense a huge opportunity to add to his three titles here.

The draw has certainly been kind to him with both his great rivals on the other side, while second-round opponent Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis was forced to withdraw through injury.

It meant that while Chung, a former Australian Open semi-finalist who has slipped to 170 in the world due to injuries, had already spent 11 hours on court this week, Nadal had spent just two.

Nadal had also dispensed with the tape he usually has strapped around his knees, which have given him so many injury troubles in the past.

"The tape is not working any more," he explained.

"But I'm happy to be playing on the hard court. I'm trying to play a bit more aggressive. I'm happy to be in the fourth round one more time.

"Last year I had some tough matches and in the semi-final I had to retire. This year I had to miss some tournaments, I'm not 25 anymore.

"You never know what's better or worse, all that matters to me is I'm in the fourth round. I just think day by day, try to practice and be ready for a tough match."

Nadal will face Marin Cilic in the last 16.

Also on Saturday, Pablo Andujar beat Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-4 6-3 6-2 to reach the last 16.

The unseeded Spaniard will face France's Gael Monfils in the next round after he beat Canada's Denis Shapovalov in a marathon five-setter 6-7 7-6 6-4 6-7 6-3.