Sep 4 2013
Richard Gasquet defied his mental demons with a superb victory over David Ferrer to reach the semi-finals of the US Open.
The Frenchman is one of the most talented players on tour but too often his nerve has failed him in big matches.
Having dominated the first two sets on a glorious New York day, Gasquet looked set to suffer another heartbreaking loss when fourth seed Ferrer fought back to level the match.
But this time it was Gasquet who came good in the decider to clinch a 6-3 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-3 victory after three hours and 23 minutes.
The Frenchman's one-handed backhand is the most elegant shot in tennis and it was firing on all cylinders in the first two sets.
He was playing attacking tennis and dominating Ferrer, who has struggled for form since the clay-court season.
The Spaniard is a ferocious competitor, though, and an early break in the third set changed the momentum of the match.
Gasquet had retreated far behind the baseline and, although there were still plenty of shots to wow the crowd, Ferrer was in charge.
The Frenchman had chances in the middle of the fourth set but did not take them, and when Ferrer pulled level it appeared the match was only heading one way.
Of Gasquet's last six five-set defeats at grand slams, five of them have come after he was two sets up.
But there have been signs this season that Gasquet was ready to leave his reputation behind him.
And he showed in his fourth-round victory over Milos Raonic, where he saved a match point in the fourth set before going on to win in five, that he could battle and win.
In the end it was Ferrer that cracked, the man known as the little beast serving a double fault on break point in the sixth game.
And there was not so much as a wobble from Gasquet, who clinched victory on his first match point with his 52nd winner.
Gasquet's victory over Raonic was just his second from 17 fourth-round matches at slams, and he will contest his second semi-final six years after his first.
That came at Wimbledon, where he lost to Roger Federer, and it is likely to be Rafael Nadal he meets on Saturday.
Gasquet has lost all 10 of his professional matches against the Spaniard, who is just two weeks older.
"The last time I beat him I was 13 years old," the Frenchman said with a smile. "I beat him one time in my life."