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RANKINGS BOOST FOR GASQUET
Gasquet - through to last four. (Getty Images)
Richard Gasquet moved into the semi-finals of the 10tele.com Open in Nottingham on Thursday and confirmed his status as the new French number one.
Gasquet's 6-3 4-6 6-0 win over defending champion Paradorn Srichaphan means he will overtake countryman Sebastien Grosjean in the new ATP Tour rankings next week.
The 18-year-old admitted: "I am so happy to be number one in France because I have dreaming of this since I was a child."
"But I think France deserves better than to have a number one who is ranked only around 25 in the world."
Gasquet, who also reached the quarter-finals at Queen's Club last week, insists he is beginning to enjoy playing on his least familiar surface
And he proved his point in the manner of his victory over Srichaphan which gives him a strong chance of celebrating his 19th birthday on Saturday with his first Tour title.
Gasquet made light of cold and blustery conditions to make a fine start, holding serve comfortably through the first set after an early break of his Thai opponent's serve.
Srichaphan, eager to hang onto the title he had claimed over Thomas Johansson last year, fought back to level the match but appeared troubled by a shoulder injury.
Despite the urgings of the home crowd, Srichaphan was not able to maintain the level required to combat the sublime shot-making of his opponent.
Gasquet's play was a joy to watch at times in the final set
as he raced into the last four in style.
Gasquet, the former world junior number one, added: "I played well on grass against Mario Ancic last week but I played even better today."
"I am happy to be in the semi-finals on a grass court and it would be a great performance for me to get into the final here."
Srichaphan, who has been handed a tough Wimbledon first round draw against Marat Safin, paid tribute to his opponent.
Srichaphan said: "Today I had a chance but I didn't take it and Richard is definitely the man to watch for this tournament.
"He is young, fresh and confident and he has a great talent. He made it kind of tough for me out there today."
Taylor Dent will play Gasquet in the semi-finals after opponent Thomas Johansson withdrew through injury early in the second set of their last-eight match.
Dent was leading 6-3 and 1-0 with a break when Johansson - who missed the whole of the 2003 season with a knee injury - abruptly pulled out.
The Swede had been visibly irritated by two line calls which went against him in the first set, and never sufficiently recovered his poise.
Dent admitted the second call in question was bad but refused to take responsibility for not coming to Johansson's aid.
Dent said: "I'm good friends with Thomas but it's an unspoken rule that you don't expect guys to change the calls.
"I've played Thomas many times and had many bad calls go against me, so if he was expecting it, his expectations were misplaced.''