The second seed immediately stamped his authority on the contest by breaking in the opening game against an opponent who was playing in the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time in six years.
There were some flashy backcourt strokes from both players as the first set went on, but Nadal showed the stronger defence to take advantage of his early break and move ahead in the match.
It was deja vu in the second, as the Spaniard again broke Gasquet's serve at the first attempt, only for the Frenchman to level the set at two games apiece soon after.
During his most promising spell of the New York evening, Gasquet missed two break points late in the second set and would then pay the penalty as Nadal stormed the tie-break 7-1.
The world number two was soon cruising as for the third time in the match he won the opening two games of the set, which he would go on to clinch courtesy of consecutive Gasquet double faults.
Nadal has won the US Open once before when he defeated Djokovic in the 2010 final.