Rafael Nadal said he produced what may have been his best set of tennis this year as he beat Richard Gasquet at the French Open.
Nadal was in dominant mood again at Roland Garros as he cruised to a 6-0, 7-5, 6-2 win in the evening match on Thursday.
The tone though was very much set by a brilliant opening set, and Nadal thinks it may have been his best tennis of the season so far.
“I think I played a great first set, one of the best of the clay court season, in my opinion,” Nadal said. “No mistakes, high intensity, winners, playing long.
“In the second, still good. Then, of course, Richard is a great player. He had some good serves in the next game, and then [it] was tough.
The win extends Nadal’s winning record over Gasquet to 17-0. It’s a head-to-head that no other match-up in the Open Era can best, and he says it of course gives you confidence going into the match.
“Well, of course it’s better to win 16 in a row than lose 16 in a row, no? When you go to the match and you have been winning all the last 16 times, of course the confidence is a little bit higher than when you have a tougher head-to-head, no?
“I respect [him because] I know how good Richard is. I know he’s coming back after a tough period of time.
“I think he played smart, playing aggressive. I just went on court with highest respect, with the highest focus possible, and that’s what I try to do every day against everyone.”
Nadal will face Cameron Norrie next, and he is expecting a tougher test than perhaps many believe it will be.
“Every week he’s making good results, winning against very good players,” Nadal said of Norrie.
“I know it is going to be a tough one. I need to be ready to play my best. I know he has a style of game that is not easy to play against. I need to play well.”
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