Gasquet, Wawrinka face big challenges in U.S. Open semis

Sept. 6, 2013 at 8:56 AM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Richard Gasquet and Stanislas Wawrinka can reach new tennis heights and help determine the race for the world No. 1 ranking in the U.S. Open semifinals.

Gasquet takes on Rafael Nadal and Wawrinka meets Novak Djokovic Saturday. The winners advance to the title match Monday.

That Djokovic and Nadal are among the semifinalists is no surprise:

Djokovic has made the semis in the last 14 Grand Slam events and seven consecutive U.S. Open semifinals. He's 10-4 in semifinals, with five major tournament titles, including the 2011 U.S. Open. He's 49-8 this year with a third consecutive Australian Open among his three 2013 titles. He was the runner-up at Wimbledon.

Nadal is an amazing 58-3 with nine titles and three second-place finishes in 13 tournaments. He's in a Grand Slam semi for the 10th time in the last 12 major tournament appearances (he missed two events because of injury). That run includes six Grand Slam titles, including the 2010 U.S. Open.

Nadal is yet to drop his serve in this year's Open and Djokovic hadn't lost a set until the third set of his quarterfinal against Mikhail Youzhny.

Djokovic and Nadal are 1-2 in the world rankings and the only question is the order they will continue to occupy those spots. Djokovic will retain the No. 1 ranking if he wins Saturday; Nadal needs to beat Wawrinka in the finals to return to the top spot.

Gasquet and Wawrinka, while Top 10 seeds, have one Grand Slam semifinal appearance between them -- Gasquet's advance to the 2007 Wimbledon semis.

Wawrinka was 0-for-3 in major tournament quarterfinals until he ousted defending champion Andy Murray in straight sets Thursday.

Gasquet got out of the quarters by holding on for a five-set win over David Ferrer.

Nadal is 10-0 versus Gasquet, losing only four sets (two on tiebreakers). Gasquet, however, remembers that he beat Nadal -- even if it was in the under-14s.

"It's very difficult to play against Rafa," Gasquet said after his quarterfinal win. "I'm not the only one to lose, to have this (head-to-head) record. But it's very difficult because he's powerful, especially with the forehand."

Djokovic owns a 12-2 career edge over Wawrinka. Wawrinka hasn't beaten Djokovic since 2006 but he did push the world No. 1 to a 12-10 fifth set in the fourth round at the Australian Open this year.

"He [Wawrinka] showed today why he deserves to be in Top 10 of the world," Djokovic said Thursday. "He won in straight sets against the defending champion and he probably played one of his best tennis [matches] that I've seen him play on hard courts."

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