Top seed Rafael Nadal maintained his dominance over Richard Gasquet Wednesday night in Cincinnati cruising to a 6-3, 6-4 victory, his 15th straight over the Frenchman.
Nadal, the lone former champion in the field, returns Thursday night to face countryman Albert Ramos Vinolas.
“I work every day to play better. It’s obvious that was an important start for me, a good one. Now I have another opportunity tomorrow to go on court and play another match. I hope to be ready to play well tomorrow. I think I can do it, because I have been practicing well,” Nadal said.
No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev saw his summer run come to an end at the hands of 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe who stunned the German 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Zverev entered riding a 10-match win streak after titles in Washington and then Montreal on Sunday, and appeared on his way to another victory after taking the first set. But the American teen took advantage of a tiring 20-year-old Zverev who had nothing to offer after the first set.
“I’m completely dead right now. I have been dead for the past two days,” admitted Zverev. “I finished the match. Could have easily pulled the plug in the second set. But I’m not going to retire just because I’m tired. And he’s too good of a player to beat him when I’m in this stage.
“I just played what, 12 matches in a two week span? I have won one ATP 500 event and one ATP 1000 event in the last two weeks. I beat a lot of Top 10 players and have beaten a lot of great players, a lot of tough matches. I’m not a machine. So I’m tired, yeah. There is no hiding it.”
For the effort, Tiafoe picked up his first career Top 10, the biggest of his young career for the world No. 87.
“These are wins that definitely can change your career the right way,” Tiafoe said. “This is a big relief for me. We grew up together playing junior Grand Slams, playing Under-12s, Under-14s. I have known him for forever. Seeing him rise like that, I was, like, ‘Maybe I can do the same’. Then he beat me twice, and I was, like, ‘All right, maybe I can’t’. So me beating him today made me feel pretty good.”
Tiafoe meets countryman John Isner in a rematch of their US Open epic won by big John in a fifth set tiebreaker.
Nick Kyrgios continued his return to form beating Alex Dolgopolov. David Ferrer need 3 to take down Janko Tipsarevic and Adrian Mannarino stayed hot ousting Sam Querrey in an upset.
Pablo Carreno Busta, Grigor Dimitrov and Juan Martin del Potro were also winners. Dimitrov and del Potro meet Thursday in one of the better third round matches.
In the field, just 2 of the Top 10 players remain – Nadal and Thiem.
THURSDAY CINCINNATI SCHEDULE
CENTER start 11:00 am
ATP –  G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs J. del Potro (ARG)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA –  G. Muguruza (ESP) vs  M. Keys (USA)
ATP –  J. Isner (USA) vs [WC] F. Tiafoe (USA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP –  R. Nadal (ESP) vs A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)
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