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Old 06-23-2006, 06:09 PM   #55
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Gasquet Reaches First Final in 2006; Faces Bjorkman


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Jonas Bjorkman Defending champion Richard Gasquet moved into the final of the Red Letter Days Open in Nottingham as the 20-year-old defeated Robin Soderling 7-6(7), 7-6(5) in one hour, 36 minutes.

The Frenchman, who improved to 9-0 at the grass court event, is looking to bounce back from a slow 2006 start. In September 2005 Gasquet reached his career-high ranking No.12 but an elbow injury sidelined him for the rest of the 2006 season.

Gasquet, one of only three players to defeat Federer in the past two years (Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian are the other two), had failed to advance past the round of 16 in his first 11 tournaments this season.

En route to the final, Gasquet defeated qualifier Ivan Navarro Pastor of Spain, Italian Daniele Bracciali, countryman Gilles Simon and Sweden's Soderling..

Gasquet will next face Jonas Bjorkman, who breezed past Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-1 in one hour, 11 minutes. The Swede veteran will battle Gasquet (14 year younger) for the first time in his career.

Bjorkman, who is coming off a Rolang Garros doubles title with Max Mirnyi, chose to compete exclusively in the singles draw this week. The last time the 34-year-old advanced past the quarterfinals of an ATP event was in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2005, when he captured his sixth career-title.

The former World No. 4 improved to 6-10 in the season and 381-317 in his career.

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