Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 22 News List

Gasquet ends Federer's streak

PRO TENNIS TOUR Ranked 101st in the world by ATP, Richard Gasquet, an 18 year old from France, upset No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland in Monaco

AP , MONTE CARLO, MONACOAP, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Richard Gasquet of France prepares to return to Roger Federer of Switzerland during their Monte-Carlo master series quarterfinal match at the Monte Carlo Masters in Monte Carlo, Monaco on Friday. Gasquet won 6-7 (1/7), 6-2, 7-6 (10/8).

PHOTO: AFP

French teenager Richard Gasquet has heard it all before -- but now it's Roger Federer who's talking him up as a future tennis great.

The 18-year-old Gasquet caused a major upset Friday, saving three match points to beat Federer 6-7 (1), 6-2, 7-6 (8) and reach the Monte Carlo Masters semifinal -- putting an end to Federer's 25-match winning streak.

Ever since winning an ATP tour match aged just 15 years and 10 months -- also at Monte Carlo in 2002 -- Gasquet has been widely tipped for stardom.

Four-time Grand Slam winner Federer says he suffered the same pressures as Gasquet. But he feels the teenager has found his consistency and has what it takes to get to the top.

"He's definitely got all the tools," Federer said. "It's a matter of consistency. That's what I was struggling with in the beginning. I think that's what he was doing too."

After 2 hours, 20 minutes on court, Gasquet ripped a backhand passing shot down the line from far behind the baseline to overcome Federer after wasting two match points of his own.

Gasquet, a qualifier ranked 101st by the ATP, will face Spain's Rafael Nadal, another 18-year-old, in Saturday's semifinals.

Nadal, seeded No. 11, defeated No. 4 Gaston Gaudio of Argentina, the French Open champion, 6-3, 6-0. Gasquet and Nadal have played twice, each winning once.

Federer is excited at the prospect of a new power struggle in tennis between Gasquet and Nadal.

"I would give the advantage to Nadal. It will be an interesting match," Federer said. "Whatever happens, there will be a young player in the final, which is good for tennis."

Federer entered the match with a 35-1 record this year, the best start on the men's tour since John McEnroe was 39-0 in 1984. His only previous loss was to Marat Safin in the semis of the Australian Open.

Federer hadn't lost in his last 35 matches against players outside the top 100. That was a second-round reverse against Radek Stepanek at Gstaad in 2002.

Gasquet became the first French teenager to beat a player ranked as the world's best since 19-year-old Henri Leconte toppled Ivan Lendl at Forest Hills in May 1983.

Gasquet was playing only his fourth ATP tour match of the year.

Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain and defending champion Guillermo Coria of Argentina picked up victories to reach the semifinals.

Two-time champion Ferrero advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Italy's Filippo Volandri.

Coria, seeded No. 6, overcame a sloppy start to beat David Ferrer of Spain 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 and reach the last four for the first time this year.

Ferrero and Coria will meet in the semis in a rematch of the 2003 Monte Carlo final, which Ferrero won.

Justine Henin-Hardenne advanced to the semifinals when top-ranked Lindsay Davenport was forced to retire in the third set of their match with a pulled muscle.

Henin-Hardenne, who spent most of last season ranked No. 1, won 3-6, 6-3, 1-0.

Davenport said she thought she had a slight strain in her hip flexor on Thursday night and taped it for the match Friday. At one point during the first set, the match was delayed so she could get additional treatment.

"I was doing a pretty good job of just going for my shots and going for winners right away," she said. "But you know, after a while, you just can't play under 50 percent out there."

Davenport said she knew she probably wouldn't complete the match when she fell behind 0-3 in the second set.

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