Matches of the Year: No. 5 – Wawrinka vs. Gasquet

The Grandstand presents its 2013 Matches of the Year, continuing with No. 5. Neither Stanislas Wawrinka nor Richard Gasquet was any stranger to five-set thrillers in 2013. They played one against each other with a spot in the French Open quarterfinals at stake. Ricky Dimon and Hasan Murad recap the match.

Stanislas Wawrinka d. Richard Gasquet 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 8-6 – French Open fourth round

“I have a little pain in my leg at the moment, but more in my soul for sure.”

That’s what a despondent Gasquet had to say after losing a five-set Roland Garros battle against Wawrinka. The Frenchman had blown two-set leads before, but not like this. He could virtually taste a berth in the quarterfinals, no more than a skid-mark on the crushed brick of Court Suzanne Lenglen away from giving an exuberant French crowd what it had come to see. After four hours and 16 minutes, however, it was Gasquet who was left distraught in defeat.

With the fans firmly behind him, Gasquet put himself in the driver’s seat by recovering from a break down to win the opener in a tiebreaker before surging to a double-break lead in the second. Wawrinka even had treatment for a thigh issue, an ominous sign that what turned into a memorable thriller would not even make it to the two-hour mark. The Swiss emerged to get one of the breaks back, but he missed another break opportunity at 4-5 and Gasquet finally served it out with an ace at ad-in.

But this was 2013—a year that gave birth to a new Wawrinka. Perhaps drawing on experience from an Australian Open epic against Novak Djokovic, the world No. 10 now possessed the required mental strength to turn the tables on Gasquet. Despite continual arguments with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, Wawrinka maintained his concentration to win the third set 6-4. Gasquet was unable to capitalize on the two break chances he had in the ninth game of the fourth set and Wawrinka pounced on his lone break-point chance at 5-5 by striking a forehand winner.

The final set was quite a spectacle to behold. Two of the sport’s best single-handed backhands were operating on full throttle and it was nearly impossible forecast a winner. What ultimately decided the outcome was a twist of fate. Whereas Wawrinka dealt with an injury scare in the early going, Gasquet succumbed to physical problems at the finish line. Even with his movement severely impaired, the seventh seed earned two break points at 5-5 in the fifth. Wawrinka stayed strong, though, and—with the benefit of serving first in the set—continued to apply pressure on his hobbled opponent. Only after 13 arduous games did Gasquet’s intensity dip just enough for Wawrinka to deliver the final knockout blow and end the match with a break at 7-6.

“(Wawrinka) played incredible; the crowd was incredible,” Gasquet reflected. “They supported me. I’m disappointed to have lost. I can’t give more than I gave today.”

“It’s ranked really high in my wins if you look at my level and how I decided to fight for this match,” Wawrinka assured. “Also the fact that I won for the very first time in the round of 16 (at the French Open), and it was a crowd that was supporting us for four hours. I played the best level I ever played at.”

3 Comments on Matches of the Year: No. 5 – Wawrinka vs. Gasquet

  1. Who would have guessed that Wawrinka and Gasquet would each be featured twice in the Matches of the Year 2013 list!

  2. exactly! btw, what are YOUR top 4 matches of the year? lets see how similar/diff they are from the Grand stand’s 😛

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