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Watch highlights as Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov Frances Tiafoe and Nick Kyrgios secure spots in the Western & Southern Open third round in Cincinnati. Watch live matches at tennistv.com. Photo: Peter Staples

Nadal Stays Perfect Against Gasquet In Cincinnati

Spaniard going for his second Cincinnati title

Rafael Nadal extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head series dominance to 15-0 against Richard Gasquet to start his Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Wednesday. The top-seeded Spaniard saved his only break point faced and converted just the right amount of break points – two – against the Frenchman to advance 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal improved to 21-10 at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament and looked prime to fight for his second Cincinnati title this week (also 2013, d. Isner). After Gasquet erased a match point at 30/40, 3-5 in the second set, Nadal served out the match to love.

“I think I played a solid match. I think Richard has a great backhand, and his best shot probably goes against my best shot, too. That probably can make the difference,” Nadal said when asked about his undefeated FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Gasquet.

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Regardless of what happens this week, Nadal will return to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday because of Roger Federer's withdrawal from Cincinnati (back injury). The Spaniard will be No. 1 for the first time since 6 July 2014. It will mark the fourth different time in his career that the 31 year old has ascended to the top Emirates ATP Ranking.

Nadal will next face countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who toppled Nadal's Wimbledon conqueror 16th seed Gilles Muller 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

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 practising well,” Nadal said.

Adrian Mannarino also knocked off a seeded player to reach the third round. The Frenchman beat 15th seed Sam Querrey 6-2, 7-6(4). Mannarino is coming off his first Masters 1000 quarter-final last week at the Coupe Rogers (l. to Shapovalov). He will next play third seed Dominic Thiem.