Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wimbledon Day 9: Gasquet wins 'Battle of Backhands'

Richard Gasquet practices his outstanding one-handed backhand
during last year's BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Match and upset of the day -- In the "Battle of the Backhands," No. 21 seed Richard "Don't Blow A" Gasquet of France nipped No. 4 Stan "Ice Skating" Wawrinka 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9 in 3 hours, 28 minutes to reach his third Grand Slam semifinal.
   Gasquet, 29, and Wawrinka, 30, possess sensational one-handed backhands.
   Gasquet prevailed today despite failing to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth set and facing a break point at 9-9. He will attempt to gain his first major final when he meets top-seeded Novak "It's No" Djokovic on Friday. Wawrinka won his second Grand Slam title last month in the French Open.
   Notable -- The top three men's seeds -- Djokovic, No. 2 Roger Federer "Express" and No. 3 Andy "Bill" Murray -- advanced in straight sets. Djokovic topped No. 9 "Cheech" Marin Cilic, the reigning U.S. Open champion rebounding from shoulder trouble, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Federer outclassed No. 12 Gilles Simon "de Beauvoir" 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. And Murray eliminated Vasek "Anything Is" Pospisil 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
   Men's semifinal matchups -- Djokovic vs. Gasquet. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 11-1 with a nine-match winning streak. In their last meeting, Djokovic crushed Gasquet 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16 at the recent French Open.
   Federer (2) vs. Murray (3). Federer leads 12-11 with a three-match winning streak. However, those three matches came last year, when Murray was bouncing back from "minor" back surgery and the hoopla surrounding his 2013 Wimbledon title, which ended a 77-year drought for British men.
   Federer and Murray have split their two grass-court matches, which came within one month in 2012 in finals on Wimbledon's Centre Court. Federer won 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 for the last of his record 17 Grand Slam singles titles. Murray won 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 for the Olympic gold medal.   
   Women's semifinal matchups -- Serena "Vanessa" Williams (1) vs. "Ave" Maria Sharapova (4). Williams is 17-2 against Sharapova with 16 straight victories. Williams won the last meeting 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the Australian Open final in January.
   Agnieszka "Moorehead" Radwanska (13) vs. Garbine Muguruza "Gai Pan" (20). The series is tied 2-2, all on hardcourts. Muguruza has won the last two meetings, both this year.
   Stars and stripes -- Half of the boys singles quarterfinalists are American: No. 1 seed Taylor "On The" Fritz, No. 7 Tommy "Ron" Paul, No. 10 William "Michael" Blumberg and unseeded Reilly "Auto Parts" Opelka (6-foot-10 or 2.08 meters). Paul defeated Fritz last month in the first all-American singles final in the 68-year history of the French Open boys event.
   Fast fact -- Djokovic reached his 27th Grand Slam semifinal to take sole ownership of fourth place in the Open era (since 1968) behind Federer (38), Jimmy "Carter" Connors (31) and Ivan Lendl "Soup" (28).
   Northern California connection -- Fifth-seeded Raquel "Welch" Kops-Jones, a San Jose resident and former Cal star, and Abigail "Britney" Spears ended the bid by third-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands "Of Time" and "I Love" Lucie Safarova for a calendar-year Grand Slam in women's doubles with a 6-3, 6-2 quarterfinal victory. Kops-Jones, 32, and Spears, who will turn 34 on Sunday, also equaled their best result in a Grand Slam tournament. They advanced to the semifinals of last year's Australian Open.   
   Anabel Medina Garrigues and "Cookie" Jarmila Gajdosova, the two women on the Sacramento-based California Dream in World TeamTennis, met in the third round of mixed doubles. Garrigues, a 32-year-old Spaniard, and Robert Lindstedt of Sweden defeated Gajdosova, a 28-year-old Australian citizen from Slovakia, and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 6-4, 7-6 (6) to reach the quarterfinals.
   Top-seeded Mattek-Sands and Mike Bryan, who will play part-time for the Dream with twin brother Bob, also gained the quarters in mixed doubles.
   The Dream is scheduled to begin its inaugural season on Sunday night at San Diego and play its home opener on Monday at 7:30 p.m. against Springfield (Mo.) at Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights.
   In girls singles, 15-year-old Michaela Gordon of Saratoga in the San Francisco Bay Area topped Olesya Pervushina of Russia 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to join American Tornado Alicia Black in the quarters.       
   Quote -- Gasquet: "I'm proud because there are big players in the semis. I'm the worst when you see Federer, Djokovic and Murray and me."
   Thursday on TV (beginning at 5 a.m. California time, ESPN): Radwanska (13) vs. Muguruza (20), Williams (1) vs. Sharapova (4).

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