Rafael Nadal has dominated many opponents during his illustrious career, but no player moreso than Richard Gasquet.
“Let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row!”
Vitas Gerulaitis said that after snapping a 16-match losing streak against Jimmy Connors at the 1979 year-end Masters at Madison Square Garden. Gasquet will hope to say, “Nobody beats Richard Gasquet 18 times in a row” on Saturday when he faces Nadal in the third round of the US Open.
Based on history, the Frenchman will have a lot to overcome against the 22-time major winner. Nadal has not just won their 17 ATP Head2Head clashes — he has done so convincingly.
The Spaniard has not lost a set against Gasquet since 2008 in Canada, and has claimed 31 consecutive sets in their rivalry. Only two of those sets have gone to a tie-break, and 20 of the 31 have been decided by a margin of 6-3 or greater.
Gasquet is not a low-ranked player whom Nadal has just happened to face many times. The Frenchman has won 582 tour-level matches, good for fifth-most among active players. The only active players who have won more are the “Big Four” of Roger Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Gasquet has won 15 ATP Tour titles, reached a career-high No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and earned 35 victories against Top 10 opponents. None of those have come against Nadal.
During Gerulaitis’ 16-match losing streak against Connors, he won seven sets. Gasquet has claimed four sets against Nadal, with the most recent coming when World No. 4 Carlos Alcaraz was five years old.
Gasquet and Nadal, both 36, have been linked since before they were teens. There is a famous video of them playing at the age of 12 at Les Petits As, a premier junior tournament in which Gasquet defeated Nadal.
“The comparison was not that long… when we were 13, 14, but when we got [to] 18, the comparison was not there anymore,” Gasquet once said. “That’s a bit of a problem that there was a comparison with Rafa Nadal, but there was.”
Nadal’s Top 5 Perfect Records
1) Richard Gasquet
2) Paul-Henri Mathieu
T3) Karen Khachanov
T3) Pablo Carreno Busta
T3) Jarkko Nieminen
Nadal has played 313 different opponents in tour-level matches. After Gasquet, the most wins Nadal has earned against a player without losing is Paul-Henri Mathieu, whom he defeated 10 times. After that, Nadal has beaten Karen Khachanov, Pablo Carreno Busta and Jarkko Nieminen eight times each without suffering a loss against any of them.
Nadal has enjoyed lopsided rivalries against many more of his contemporaries, but those are men against whom he has tasted defeat. Examples include his 26-6 record against Spaniard David Ferrer, 20-4 mark against Czech Tomas Berdych and 19-3 record against Swiss Stan Wawrinka. All three of those men cracked the Top 5 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
For now, Nadal will focus on extending his winning streak against Gasquet to 18, with a place in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows at stake.
Did You Know?
Novak Djokovic owns an 18-0 ATP Head2Head record against Gael Monfils and Roger Federer won all 17 of his matches against both David Ferrer and Mikhail Youzhny.