Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
Dolgopolov was a potential threat to the number one seed because in their eight previous meetings, he had beaten Nadal twice and those two wins were consecutive victories for the Ukrainian. Thus, the Spaniard needed to be prepared for the unpredictable shot making and the threat.
Nadal came out extremely focused, there was no slow start for him today, as he understood a slow start against Dolgopolov would hurt him. In five set matches, one of the objectives is to win your matches as easy as possible and preferably in straight sets. Nadal did just that today.
Surprisingly, Dolgopolov was off his game today; after his brilliant performance in his previous match, Nadal fans were concerned he could pull off the upset. We had no need to worry though as Nadal took care of the Ukrainian quite comfortably, winning 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
There was no uncertainty in Nadal’s game today; he was clear about what he needed to do and he executed his plan with conviction. Dolgopolov did put up a bit more resistance in the second set, but he was not consistent and he faltered late in the set to lose his serve and Nadal served it out easily to get the two set lead. After that, the Ukrainian’s will was broken and the third set was a blow-out.
The draw does not get any easier for the number one ranked player though. He will play the Russian teenager, Andrey Rublev. Nadal has been vulnerable to these young NextGen stars, who play with fearless abandon. After his recent loss to Denis Shapovalov, he will be wary of his next opponent.
If he gets by Rublev, he still has more obstacles to overcome if he wants to get to his first US Open final since 2013.
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