Richard Gasquet has advanced to the final of the Rogers Cup men’s tennis tournament.
The No. 14 seed from France eliminated eighth-seeded American John Isner 7-6 (3), 6-3 on Saturday in one hour 20 minutes under cloudy skies at centre court.
Gasquet, ranked 21st in the world, will face defending champion Novak Djokovic who defeated Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-1 in Saturday's other semi-final. It’s Gasquet’s first trip to a Masters 1000 final in six years. In 2006, also in Toronto, Gasquet lost to Roger Federer.
The 26-year-old handled Isner’s imposing serve well, drawing the six-foot-nine American into a game of baseline rallies. He also served with precision, winning 90 per cent of first serve points in the first set, and finishing the match with four aces.
“It’s a difficult player but the key to the match was to return well and I did it,” said Gasquet. “I try to return all the time and make him play.”
He blazed a backhand by Isner to lead 4-2 in the tiebreaker and smashed an overhead shot to close out the set and deflate Isner, who played two matches on Friday night because of rain delays. Gasquet also played two matches on Friday.
“I had to do a big tiebreak and I did it,” said Gasquet. “And then I felt well, more confident. I felt more fresh after winning the first set.”
Gasquet took control in the second set when he broke for a 5-2 lead. Isner double faulted on a deuce, then netted to give Gasquet the advantage, which he capitalized on with another backhand winner.
“It’s tough. It’s a world class [backhand],” said Isner. “It’s just a gift. It’s tough for me because I like to take the majority of my shots if I’m playing a righty to his backhand, and he was able to handle that pretty well.
“He was just a lot better than me today and he deserved the win. He was the better player in all facets.”
The 27-year-old Isner, making his debut at the Toronto tournament, advanced to the semi-finals by ousting Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont.
There are no Canadians left on the men’s side. Top-ranked doubles specialist Daniel Nestor of Toronto and partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus lost their quarter-final match 6-4, 6-4 to Spain’s Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez on Saturday.