Richard Gasquet’s (Player Profile) chances at qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals are hanging in the balance and he will need to produce a strong showing here in Paris, particularly in his upcoming match against Kei Nishikori (Player Profile) to extend his grasp on a qualifying spot for the year-end championships. The two athletes have met three time on the ATP tour, dating back to the 2008 Tokyo Open with Gasquet leading the series with a perfect 3-0 record over the Japanese no. 1.
Gasquet fought an intense and emotional contest in the second round against Fernando Verdasco, one which resulted in a back-and-forth battle that lasted two hours and 41 minutes and ended with a scoreline of 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3. The Frenchman looked determined to rally to victory after he lost a close tiebreaker in the second set and would dominate the third set ahead two breaks. With Tsonga, Mahut and Llodra out of the tournament, Gasquet and Simon are the only Frenchmen remaining in the main draw in Paris with Gasquet being the higher ranked of the two. He is now three matches away from his 350th career victory.
In arguably the best performance in the tournament so far this year, Kei Nishikori upset local hero Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to deny the Frenchman a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals. The World No. 19 saved two match points in the third set set tie-break to defeat the 2008 champion, 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(7) and reach the third round in Paris for the first time. Tsonga, who dominated the first set 6-1, was incapable of controlling the remainder of the match as he hit 26 errors on court and eventually lost a crucial point in the tiebreaker that cost him the match.
While Gasquet holds a perfect 3-0 record over Nishikori, including a win in 2013, he is certainly not playing his most inspiring tennis on the tour. If he can maintain his efforts from the Verdasco contest, he will likely defeat the Japanese star, yet any loss of focus and Nishikori would more than willingly dash another Frenchman’s hopes for the Tour Finals.
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