Rafael Nadal defeated Richard Gasquet on Wednesday night from the 2017 Cincinnati Masters. The win marked Nadal's 15th straight over the French player in what is one of the more one-sided head-to-head series among active players. Next up for Rafa is a Thursday match one week to the day after losing last Thursday to Denis Shapovalov at the 2017 Rogers Cup. Nadal will next face veteran Albert Ramos-Vinolas, a fellow Spanish player and one that has enjoyed some noted success over the last two seasons. However, Ramos-Vinolas remains a clay courter by trade, and he's unlikely to upset Nadal in what will be a round-of-sixteen match at the Western & Southern Open.

Nadal versus Ramos-Vinolas preview

The two players do not have a lengthy head-to-head series against one another. Over the last five seasons, including 2017, they have bumped into one another three times in tour-level matches. All of the contests came on clay in Europe. Despite the different surface compared to Cincinnati Nadal can still ground some confidence in the results for certain. He leads Ramos-Vinolas 3-0 in heads-up play, and 6-0 on sets played. Only one of the sets between them has gone to a tiebreaker, meaning that Nadal has generally found a way to get into Ramos-Vinolas' serve.

The match features the World No. 2 and the World No. 24. Ramos-Vinolas would be a higher-ranked player if not for the fact that hard-court success has eluded him over the years.

In fact, in making Cincinnati's third round, the Spaniard has done well by his standards. He fell in the first round last week in Montreal, and two weeks ago in Los Cabos, he fell in his first match to a player ranked outside of the top 100. Back in Monte Carlo, he had the tournament of his life as he made the final of that Masters Series draw.

But then that was on clay. Looking back at Indian Wells and Miami, Ramos-Vinolas went just 1-2 in the two events combined.

Match doesn't appear to have upset potential

It would be surprising to see Nadal fall to Ramos-Vinolas on the hard-court surface in Cincinnati. While Rafa has a penchant for clay as well, he is a man for all surfaces with Grand Slam titles in all four of the majors.

It's hard not to bring up the shocking loss to Shapovalov last week as a precedent for a surprise result. However, it's also hard not to look ahead in the draw for Nadal as he approaches the No. 1 ranking on August 21st. The Spaniard shares a draw to the final with Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, and David Ferrer among others. That's not too difficult of a draw with perhaps Kyrgios providing the biggest upset potential ahead of the final.

The days ahead are important for Rafa as he prepares for the 2017 US Open. Not only will he want to stay fit and healthy, but Nadal will also need to find a groove. His results since winning the French have not been significant. There is no one else in the Cincinnati draw that has ever won a Masters Series title, except for Ferrer and he only has one.

Due to that Nadal has to target a championship to charge into next week's top spot. Nadal and Ramos-Vinolas will be on Center Court's evening session on Thursday, starting not before 7 pm local time in Cincinnati.