French Open QF preview and prediction: Murray vs. Gasquet

Roland Garros is down to its last Frenchman in the singles draw, and an upset will be required if the host nation wants to have a representative in the semifinals. Richard Gasquet may not have been France’s best hope prior to the tournament, but he has battled his way into a Tuesday showdown with Andy Murray.

Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet will be squaring off for the 11th time in their careers when they clash in the quarterfinals of the French Open on Tuesday. Murray is leading the head-to-head series 7-3, including 2-1 on clay and 4-0 in their last four meetings dating back to a collision at this same tournament in 2012.

What was a burgeoning Grand Slam rivalry between 2008 and 2012 has stalled out of late. Murray and Gasquet faced each other four times at slams–twice at Roland Garros and twice at Wimbledon–in a five-year span, but they have not met in such a situation since the Scot prevailed 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 during fourth-round action in 2012. Murray has recovered from two-set deficits at the Frenchman’s expense on two occasions; 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-4 at the All-England Club in 2008 and 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in the 2010 French Open first round.

Speaking of opening-round scares on the red clay, that is exactly what the world No. 2 endured last week. Veteran qualifier Radek Stepanek surged to a two-set advantage over Murray only to eventually succumb 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5. Murray struggled though another five-setter in round two–against little-known wild card Mathias Bourgue, whom the favorite overcame 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. A pair of huge servers proved to be just what the doctor ordered for Murray, who raised his level considerably in straight-set defeats of Ivo Karlovic and John Isner.

Surprisingly, Gasquet had never been to the French Open quarters prior to this fortnight. The world No. 12 finally got over the hump in his 13th appearance, and he did so by upsetting Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 on Sunday. That was preceded by straight-setters against Thomaz Bellucci, Bjorn Fratangelo, and Nick Kyrgios. Thus run has really come out of nowhere for Gasquet, whose clay-court preparation was derailed by none other than Nishikori (the Japanese cruised in third-round contests in Madrid and Rome).
But avenging those losses to Nishikori should have Gasquet brimming with confidence heading into this one. Unfortunately for the underdog, the pressure will be ratcheted up for his first-ever quarterfinal at Roland Garros. He handled it well on Sunday, but an even bigger test against an even better opponent could be a problem. Murray’s propensity to take the ball early–especially off the return of serve–will take time away from a player who does not have compact strokes off either the forehand or backhand side. Nishikori had previously managed to execute that tactic but let himself get pushed around in rallies during the most recent contest.

Murray has been improving with each match, and the upswing in form should see him through to an impressive third consecutive French Open semifinal.

Pick: Murray in 4

36 Comments on French Open QF preview and prediction: Murray vs. Gasquet

  1. I’ve also been watching Gasquet since he was 16 or 17. Never seen him play like this before on the big stage. Andy has been off the pace today for good measure but there is the sense the tide is turning in his favour.

    #Famous last words.

    • Andy started off the third set with a break. Will he take control of this match?

      On the tennis channel they are interviewing Goffin after beating Gulbis. Still showing Murray/Gasquet on split screen.

      • Murray consolidates. Somehow I don’t think this is over yet. But I did not expect Gasquet to make this much of a match of it.

        • Gasquet seems to have lost it.

          Murray up 3-0. I think the momentum has changed after Murray won the second set.

  2. Maybe he’s just resting for a set? Letting Andy swing it out? TC is forcing me to watch ARV v Stan.

  3. Set point for Ramos. Stan serving. 2nd swerve. Stan saves it 7-7. And gets the next point 8-7 Stan.

    Stan is through in 3

    • I think Murray is going to finish this out pretty quickly. Gasquet had two great sets in him, but it’s best of five sets.

  4. Had a bad feeling Gasquet was toast after losing the second set. That let cord at 3-2 him in the breaker was so unlucky and it seemed like it knocked the wind out of him as he lost the next four points quick. Too bad. Would’ve loved to see Richard go through.

    • No way did I want gasquet to win this one. I wanted Murray to get to the semis. I want to see Murray and Stan go at it in the semis.

      Gasquet just has nothing left.

      Murray is cruising now.

  5. I’m not so sure. He has not looked particularly convincing in the matches I’ve watched, Don’t be deceived by Andy’s erratic progress to date at RG. If the Andy we saw in the Rome final shows up he will get the better of WaWa unless he can up his level significantly. .

    • I agree with this. I don’t think Stan is in his best form even now. He’s done well to get to the semis. But going up against Murray will not be an easy task!

      I think that Murray’s tough path through the draw may actually help him. He’s incredibly fit and coming from behind and being on the brink and then winning, helps to boost confidence.

      Murray is playing well now and showing some mental toughness. I am liking Murray’s chances in the semis. It’s up to Stan to raise his level.

      • hard to make a pick. i haven’t been very impressed by any of stan, nole, andy. all of them have been up and down. against a better opponent andy would have been down 2 sets to love and it would be very hard for him to come back from that score against stan or nole. he made a lot of errors in the first 2 sets and his ros was poor.
        stan had such an easy quarter final it’s very hard to judge his level. maybe he had too easy a match and that will count against him? who knows?
        will stan try to mainline his shots even when they’re not working? going for broke on the second shot? he’s been doing that all tournament and he will either have to hit his spots or adjust his game against andy.

        • That’s why I said Stan will have to raise his level of play. One might make the argument that Stan should not have had such a competitive third set. ARV had set point and could have sent it to a fourth set.

          Andy had the tougher opponent. Gasquet also played really well from what I did see of the second set.

          It may just come down to who plays better on that day or who is mentally tougher. Neither guy is at their best and the weather conditions are not going to help.

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