Richard Gasquet, the world No. 10, raised hopes of a climb toward the top five this year with a gutsy fightback which carried him from the brink of defeat to the Qatar Open title on Saturday.
The second-seeded Frenchman snatched an improbable 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory over Nikolay Davydenko, the unseeded Russian, who led by a set and a break of serve and seemed to be heading toward a notable triumph when he had points for 5-2 with a double break of serve in the second set.
Gasquet hung in and after Davydenko needed an injury time out in the final set he surged to victory.
The Frenchman lost his opening service game after being unluckily penalized after a line judge’s wrong call, and then was narrowly prevented from making the break back.
That happened after Davydenko’s return of serve was mistakenly called out, denying Gasquet the chance of making a comfortable put-away, and allowing the Russian to get the rally replayed after an appeal to the Hawkeye computer replay system succeeded.
This helped Davydenko accelerate to a 3-0 lead, but only after Gasquet had pressed hard on his advantage point and still saw Davydenko escape with a dashing backhand winner down the line.
The Frenchman had another chance to break back when Davydenko was closing the set out, and could not take that either.
The second set began with further missed chances. Davydenko sank to 0-40, but still Gasquet could not capitalize.
Soon he was a break of serve down again, and then trailing 2-4. At 30-40 in the seventh game, within one blow of a double break deficit, he seemed on his way to defeat. However, Gasquet began to make better use of his twin tactical priorities — slowing down the Davydenko attack, and creating his own pressure from further up the court.
Gasquet held on for 3-4 and then broke back at last, after four failed attempts, reaching 4-4 as Davydenko appeared to tighten up.
Gasquet won the tie-breaker comfortably.
Soon Davydenko was having treatment on a hip flexor problem, and was no longer imposing his high-speed, flat-hit attacking game. When Gasquet broke serve in the fifth game, the die was cast, and the Frenchman continued to make the Russian work harder as the finishing line appeared.
AFP, CHENNAI, India
World No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia and unseeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain set up a title clash in the ATP Chennai Open with hard-earned wins on Saturday.
The second-seeded Tipsarevic fought back after losing the first set to oust Aljaz Bedene of Slovania 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 in a semi-final that lasted two hours and five minutes.
The 80th-ranked Agut entered his maiden tour final by beating fifth seed Benoit Paire of France 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Tipsarevic appeared shaken when Bedene secured a break in the ninth game of the first set with two superb passing shots.
However, Bedene was outplayed in the next two sets as Tipsarevic served solidly and raised his game from the baseline.
Agut overcame the loss of the first set to win seven of the next eight games to take a 1-0 lead in the third.
The 47th-ranked Paire broke back in the second game before Agut produced three cross-court forehands to break the Frenchman in the ninth, and then held his serve in the next to wrap up the match.