OUT of the four Wimbledon semi finalists, French man Richard Gasquet is the odd man out.
The 29 year old is seeded at number 21 for this particular tournament, which is certainly an admirable honour, but that pales in comparison to the other three guys who are left still playing in the competition.
His opponent, Novak Djokovic ($1.06 with WilliamHill.com.au), is the world’s number one tennis player while, on the other side of the draw, second seed Roger Federer will take on third seeded Brit Andy Murray.
Gasquet’s ($10.25 with sportsbet.com.au) with effort in defeating French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka really crashed the Wimbledon party, with the Swiss seeded fourth in the tournament, denying fans of a 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 semi final round.
But seeding means little when it gets to the pointy end of a grand slam like this.
It’s all about ability to handle the big moments. And reigning Wimbledon champion Djokovic has that in spades as he hunts his ninth grand slam title.
Gasquet has reached the semi final round of a grand slam just three times in his career.
He has beaten The Djoker. Just the once, from 13 meetings. Eight of the past nine of those were straight sets wins to Djokovic, indicating the Serbian superstar’s utter dominance of his French opponent.
Before the long, enthralling boil over against Wawrinka, 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-4 11-9, Gasquet upset number 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov and also beat eccentric Aussie youngster Nick Kyrgios to make his way to the last four.
And he acknowledges that Djokovic will be a heavy favourite in their semi final clash.
“He’ll be the favourite, everyone knows that,” Gasquet said.
“I’m proud because there are big players in semis.
“I’m the worst when you see Federer, Djokovic and Murray and me.
“There is something, I want to enjoy it.
“It’s important for me to think I can win this match.
After sailing through his opening match ups in straight sets, Djokovic survived a five set scare against unheralded American Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.
He went down two sets to love and had to draw on every thing to fight back to win the next two sets, before bad light stopped play. He then came out the next day and finished off the five set match, 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 6-4 7-5, a result he says has reinvigorated his Wimbledon campaign.
“It was one of the toughest matches I played in my career here in Wimbledon,” Djokovic said.
“This match required the last drop of energy that I had and concentration and skills to take everything out.
“I managed to survive.
“That has lifted me up in a way.
“It allowed me to really feel like I’ve encountered already the toughest match situations.”
He then breezed past US Open champ Marin Cilic in straight sets, 6-4,6-4, 6-4 to book a date with Gasquet.
While defeating Cilic, the Djoker notched his 50th Wimbledon victory, which doubled as his 650th tour win.
But it wasn’t without controversy, the star chastened for his treatment of a ball girl during the match.
An anguished roar from the Serb left the ball girl visibly distressed.
But he told media that he had spoken with her and she was fine, telling reporters he felt like they had blown the incident out of proportion.
“Look, I’ve talked with the girl and, you know, she said she didn’t mind,” Djokovic said.
“We cleared it up.
“I apologised if it was anything that I did.
“But I didn’t direct anything to her.
He said Gasquet’s win over Wawrinka was monumental.
“It’s a great effort from Richard to win against Stan, who is in a terrific form, and five sets,” Djokovic said.
“I think the biggest difference with Richard now, maybe comparing to the last couple years, is his fitness.
“I think he improved a lot.
“I heard he worked hard to get himself really fit and ready to go the distance, and it’s paying off.
“Gasquet loves grass, and is one of the most talented players we have on Tour.”
Match winner: Novak Djokovic ($1.06 with CrownBet.com.au)
Game handicap: Novak Djokovic -6.5 ($1.72 with sportsbet.com.au)
Sets: Three ($1.53 with sportsbet.com.au)
While we’d love to see an upset, Djokovic is a killer who has his mojo back after fighting through his quarter final clash and there’s no way we’re tipping against him. Gasquet is on a hiding to nothing and we would expect him to play with plenty of gusto, but there’s no stopping Novak. While he breezed through the quarters and will be well rested, Gasquet had to fight out a five set thriller against the big serving Wawrinka. Straight sets and on to another grand slam final for the Serb, where he gets a chance to go back to back at Wimbledon. The Djoker missed out on the 6.5 game line against Cilic by just half a game. We think the Croat is a slightly better player than Gasquet and we also think the Djoker will be even more determined to make this one quick and painless, so we think he can take out the match in a lopsided fashion.
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