Rafael Nadal entered the U.S. Open with the hopes of earning his 23rd Grand Slam title. Currently, he sits just one Grand Slam ahead of Novak Djokovic for the most in men’s tennis history. Nadal was not considered one of the favorites because of a myriad of injuries he’s been dealing with.

Despite that, Nadal has earned his spot in the fourth round of the 2022 U.S. Open after soundly defeating frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets, 6-0, 6-1, 7-5. It was Nadal’s thirtieth match victory at night at the U.S. Open during his illustrious career.

Nadal was joined by third seed Carlos Alcaraz who cruised to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win over unseeded American Jenson Brooksby.

The age old debate as to who is the greatest tennis player in history has been at the forefront of the public consciousness. For many years, Roger Federer was considered to be the GOAT of tennis history. But his career came to a halting stop the last few years as age finally caught up with him.

That left the door open for Nadal and Djokovic, who are each a couple years younger. Djokovic had made serious headway the last couple of years but his vaccination status has put a stoppage to his momentum. Controversy swelled as Djokovic was forced to miss the Austrialian Open earlier this year. Djokovic had become arguably the greatest Aussie Open winner of all-time. So, that was a big opportunity for Nadal. The Spaniard did not miss that chance, capturing his 21st Grand Slam title. He later won the French Open for his 22nd title.

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Djokovic then won Wimbledon to pull back within one at 21 Grand Slam championships. If Nadal is able to win the U.S. Open, it would make it extremely difficult for Djokovic to catch him.