Frenchman Richard Gasquet joked about his only victory against Rafa Nadal, his likely next opponent, coming at the tender age of 13 after he marched into the last four of the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
Gasquet, 27, reached the second grand slam semi-final of his career with a tough 6-3 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-3 victory over Spain’s fourth-seeded David Ferrer.
The Frenchman appeared fatigued when Ferrer leveled the match at two sets all but his scintillating groundstrokes, especially his renowned one-handed backhand, gave him the upper hand in an entertaining match lasting three hours 23 minutes.
Gasquet moved into a semi-final against either second-seeded Nadal or fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo and he fully expected to face Nadal, against whom he has a 0-10 head-to-head record.
A YouTube clip titled ‘Rafael Nadal 13 Years Old,’ featuring the Spaniard playing against Gasquet as a junior, has attracted more than 600,000 viewers. Gasquet has been one of them.
“I saw on YouTube that video sometimes,” the Frenchman said. “People are talking about that video when I played against Rafa. On YouTube I can see I’m winning against him, so I don’t believe it sometimes.
“It was a match in Tarbes, one of the biggest tournaments for the younger children under 14. It’s good to win at under 14, but it is better to win as a pro.”
Gasquet had clear memories of that junior match against Nadal.
“I didn’t know him when I played him, when I was 13 years old,” he said. “But he was already fighting a lot already. He was already running so much. I remember I won a set 6-4, and I told my father he’s a big fighter.
“I didn’t lie. I was true. In the future, this one is the biggest player in the world.”
Gasquet’s semi-final appearance will be his first at a major since he lost to Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2007. Fatigue could be an issue for the Frenchman, following his back-to-back five-set wins against Canadian Milos Raonic and Ferrer.
“Right now, for sure, I’m a little bit tired,” Gasquet said. “But I have two days to recover. That makes a difference for me.”