Re: ATP Finals
Former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet has snapped a six-match losing streak against Top 10 opponents to capture his sixth ATP World Tour singles title.
The unseeded Frenchman, who is currently No. 68 in the South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings, defeated World No. 9 Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5) in two hours and 38 minutes at the Open de Nice Cote d'Azur on Saturday.
"It was an incredible match," admitted Gasquet. "I didn't see myself coming back when I was in the third set. I saw myself really far from victory. I was a little tense while serving, which also happened to me in the second set.
"I couldn't have been more tired at the end and I really gave everything to the match. It is a title, my sixth, and it has been a long time since I won my last ATP World Tour title. I'll remember the match for the rest of my life, that's for sure. It was hard and it's a great victory against a great player."
Gasquet won 250 South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings points and earned €72,150 in prize money for lifting his first ATP World Tour title since 30 September 2007 at Mumbai. Verdasco picked up 150 points in his quest to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November and received a cheque for €37,900.
Gasquet converted his first break point opportunity in the sixth game, with second seed Verdasco serving at 30/40. He went on to take a 5-2 lead with a service hold to love.
In the eighth game, Verdasco recovered from 0/40 and saved four set points overall. Gasquet won 23 of 31 service points to clinch the first set in 43 minutes.
Verdasco took a 3-1 lead in the second set, but then lost four of the next five games. Serving for the match at 5-4, Gasquet dropped his serve to love.
Verdasco grew in confidence, levelling the scoreline at one-set apiece in a run of six straight games to a 3-0 lead in the third set. He came within one point of taking a 5-1 lead, but could not convert a break point opportunity on Gasquet’s serve.
Verdasco served for the match at 5-3, but was broken to 15. There were five breaks of serve in the third set, which was decided on a tie-break. Gasquet, who suffered from leg cramping in the third set, converted his first match point at 6-5 in the tie-break when Verdasco hit a forehand wide.
"I was close to losing and then I was so close to winning," said Verdasco. "I was 4-1 up and a few break points to be 5-1 [in the third set], but then he started hitting winners everywhere. Every break point was a good serve or a crazy forehand, every time a winner.
"I was not able to play in those circumstances. He got lucky in the 4-1 game and grew in confidence to break me and to come back. He started to play and run for everything again."
It snapped a five-match losing streak against Verdasco and was Gasquet’s first Top 10 win since beating compatriot and World No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome in May 2009. He now has a 12-35 lifetime record against Top 10 opponents.
Earlier this year, Gasquet reached the Medibank International Sydney final (l. to Baghdatis). Last week he captured his first ATP Challenger Tour title in over five years at Bordeaux (d. Llodra).
"After Bordeaux, I didn’t think about winning here," said Gasquet. "So I am very happy to have won and to have added a sixth title. Mostly, because it was a match of enormous intensity and being able to comeback was special."
The 23-year-old Swiss resident has an 18-11 match record on the season. He has been drawn to meet fourth seed Andy Murray of Great Britain in the Roland Garros first round.
Verdasco, 26, was attempting to join compatriot Rafael Nadal as a three-time ATP World Tour titlist this year. He has a 5-8 lifetime record in ATP World Tour finals, having won the SAP Open (d. Roddick) and Barcelona Open BancSabadell (d. Soderling) titles this year. He dropped to a 30-9 season record.
“It is always easier to play when people are supporting you," said Verdasco. "Of course, I think it helped him a lot. He was close to winning at 5-4 in the second set, but if he wasn’t playing in France, then it would have been difficult in the third set.
"I am happy because I played a final, but I am unhappy that I came so close to winning and couldn't do so."