Thursday September 5th, 2013

Richard Gasquet will try to record his first-ever win against Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open semifinals. [Clive Brunskill/Getty Images] Richard Gasquet will try to record his first win vs. Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open semis. [Clive Brunskill/Getty Images]

Not even an ill-timed "BA-BA-BOOEY!" shouted as he prepared for his final service toss could stop Richard Gasquet from his own redemption story on Wednesday. In a match that seemed to summon all the demons that have swirled around Gasquet's 11-year career, the 27-year-old Frenchman defeated No. 4 David Ferrer 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 on Wednesday at the U.S. Open to advance to his second Grand Slam semifinal.

By now, the legend of Gasquet's seemingly underachieving career is well known. The prodigy was plastered on the cover of France's Tennis Magazine when he was 9, hailed as the future champion and face of French tennis. That's a a lot of pressure for anyone to deal with and, needless to say, Gasquet didn't handle it well.

Despite a one-handed backhand that he can use to dictate points at will and, if he wants to, crack in excess of 100 mph, Gasquet shrank under pressure and quickly built a reputation for physically folding in long matches. The "soft" label is tough to shed when you keep losing tight five-set matches.

Entering the U.S. Open, Gasquet had lost six straight five-setters the Slams, with his last win coming at Wimbledon in 2007 when he defeated Andy Roddick 8-6 in the fifth to make the semifinals. That would be the only major semifinal of his career until now. That Gasquet has reached the semifinals of a hard-court Slam isn't necessarily a surprise -- after all, someone had to come out of that comparatively weak Ferrer quarter -- but the way he's gone about it seems to indicate that he's finally turned a corner.

In the fourth round, Gasquet saved match point to defeat No. 10 Milos Raonic 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5 in front of a packed in Court 17 on Monday. The victory not only snapped his five-set skid at majors but also ended his streak of 11 fourth round losses at Slams (he's now 2-15 in his career).

With Wednesday's victory, Gasquet won back-to-back five-set matches for the first time. So does he have anything left in the tank for Saturday's semifinal clash against Rafael Nadal, who pummeled Tommy Robredo 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals? Gasquet is 0-10 against Nadal and hasn't won a set off him since 2008.

"Right now, for sure I'm a little bit tired," Gasquet said, after his three-hour, 33-minute victory over Ferrer. "But I have two days to recover. I'm playing Saturday. That makes a big difference for me. I think Saturday I will be fresh."

Here are some highlights from Gasquet's big win over Ferrer:

It's a good omen when you can out-rally the unbreakable errer over 26 shots:

The famous Gasquet backhand makes an appearance:

Gasquet rips a forehand pass:

Match point:

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