Following his straight sets dissection of 2012 runner-up Jerzy Janowicz, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal (Player Profile) is now three wins away from a record-breaking sixth Masters title in one season. His next opponent is the man he faced in the semi-finals of the US Open, World No. 10 Richard Gasquet (Player Profile). The Spaniard holds a perfect 11-0 record against his longtime friend and will be looking to extend the lead tomorrow afternoon on Court Central.
Rafa is enjoying a successful run in his return-event in Paris. The Spaniard has not been in his “favourite city” since 2009 and was clearly excited to be on court over the past couple of days. Following his opening round win over fellow countryman Granollers, Nadal defeated last year’s tournament sensation Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets. It was a refreshing performance from the Spaniard as he was coming off back-to-back tournament losses: the Beijing Open, where he lost to Novak Djokovic and the Shanghai Masters where he lost in the semi-final to Juan Martin del Potro. The most interesting fact is that while he lost his undefeated streak over that stretch in Asia, he also regained the No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2011.
The 27-year-old Gasquet defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 earlier today to extend his record to 4-0 against the Japanese no. 1. It was a quick and dominant performance yet in the grand scale of things, did not impact his chances of reaching the World Tour Finals. Raonic’s loss to Berdych earlier today guaranteed Gasquet and Wawrinka spots in the year-end championships. The Frenchman has been remarkably inconsistent over the past month as he reached the semifinals in Beijing, then followed it up with a first round exit in Shanghai. He quickly rebounded by winning the Moscow Open, yet once again disappointed fans as he lost in the opening round in Basel. It appears he will follow the recent pattern and enjoy a successful run in Paris – at least until he faces the top seed tomorrow afternoon.
As the head-to-head record clearly shows, this series is far from competitive. Dating back to their first ATP meeting in 2004, Gasquet has taken a set off Nadal in three of their eleven previous matches and rarely provided a fierce showing against the Spaniard. Their 2013 US Open semi-final contest was an entertaining but predictable affair and it will likely remain the same following tomorrow’s match.