Gasquet stunned after comeback
Richard Gasquet was down two sets to love, but he came back to win. In doing so, he tabled Andy Roddick's Wimbledon dreams -- once again.
WIMBLEDON, England -- When Andy Roddick turned pro at 17, he wrote down four goals for himself, all lofty: Win the U.S. Open. Reach world No. 1. Win the Davis Cup. Win Wimbledon.
At 24 going on 25, Roddick is halfway there, and the Davis Cup looks very much within reach this season, but Wimbledon will have to be tabled for another year. Nimble shot-maker Richard Gasquet of France beat No. 3 Roddick in five sets in their quarterfinal match Friday, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3), 8-6, depriving Roddick of a chance to dethrone four-time defending champion Roger Federer.
Instead, the 12th-seeded Gasquet will take on the giant of the grass courts in a matchup that underscores how swiftly the 20-year-old has established himself in the last 12 months. The two played in the first round of Wimbledon last year when Gasquet was ranked 50th in the world. He is 1-5 against the world No. 1, but he does have the distinction of being one of only seven men to beat him in the last three seasons, upending Federer in the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo in 2005.
"It's not the start of my career, but it's another step,'' said Gasquet, who ended last year at No. 18 and has risen as high as No. 11 this season. "Maybe I'll be able to get into the top 10 now.''
Gasquet appeared stunned by his victory afterwards and even more stunned at the fact that his match with Federer is scheduled first on Centre Court, at noon local time, since his own match finished at 8 p.m.
"Noon?'' he said incredulously when he was informed by French reporters. "Me? It's not true [French expletive]!"
He continued to talk, almost to himself, as he left the interview room. "I thought I was in a little bit of [expletive] when I lost the first two sets and was down in the third,'' Gasquet said. "I still don't know if I won or not.''
A clearly gutted Roddick spoke softly about another missed opportunity at the tournament whose surface beckons seductively every year and then breaks his heart.
"I'd love to make you try to understand what it feels like in the pit of your stomach right now, but I don't know if I can do that,'' he said. "I don't know if I'm articulate enough to really put that into words for you.
"I'll probably wake up tomorrow with a better sense of perspective. I'm sitting here feeling pretty crappy right now. But I promise you I'm aware in the grand scheme of things I'm still pretty blessed and very lucky and very fortunate. That being said, you know, when you put your blood, sweat and tears, everything you have into something, and you can almost taste it, you envision something and it doesn't work out, it's not easy.
"But that's what makes you addicted to the competition, you know, is the feeling when you do win. That's what gets you back on the horse.''
Roddick's loss was certainly an upset and changed the menu for NBC's "Breakfast At Wimbledon" on Saturday.
It wasn't exactly "Dewey Defeats Truman," but the network jumped the gun with a press release e-mailed to journalists, dated Friday, that said, "After a rain-filled week, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer will meet again on the grass here at Wimbledon in the semifinals tomorrow. Will Federer roll again to his fifth straight Wimbledon championship or will Roddick finally capture the Wimbledon title that's eluded him?''
Roddick and Gasquet held serve for 31 consecutive games starting with a break by Gasquet in the third set, a streak that ended only when Gasquet broke Roddick for only the second time to wrap up the match.
However, there were more than a few mini-breaks in their two tiebreaks, when Gasquet bucked the odds by winning both. Roddick was 24-3 in tiebreaks this season entering the match.
Both men served well, but it was Gasquet's clay-court game grafted onto grass -- a varied all-court buffet with his lethal backhand as a main course -- that plays especially well here with courts that play slower than in years past.
Gasquet might have been unbeatable just based on his ratio of winners to unforced errors -- a stunning 93-to-29. Roddick's was a more than respectable 60-to-24, a stat that would have won a vast majority of matches. "I thought I played pretty well,'' Roddick said. "I thought he played very well.''
After days on end of waiting for matches because of inclement weather, the start of the Roddick-Gasquet match was delayed for a different reason -- the five-hour marathon quarterfinal between Marcos Baghdatis and Novak Djokovic won by the Serbian player. Gasquet's victory back-flop didn't occur until after 8 p.m. local time, giving him little time to recover, while Federer has been joy-tripping most of the week.
"He's a wonderful player off the back of the court,'' Federer said of Gasquet. "He now mixes it up very well, coming to the net much more. He's got a nice slice, fantastic backhand. He's really improved. I think he's going to be one of the good players in the future.''
For Gasquet, the future is in the house.
Bonnie DeSimone is a freelancer who is covering Wimbledon for ESPN.com.
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