Gasquet hailed ahead of semi
Beijing - World number one Novak Djokovic has paid tribute to France's Richard Gasquet on Friday, saying he was playing "the tennis of his life" ahead of their semi-final match at the China Open.
The Serb has lost to the world number ten only once in their previous ten meetings, and Gasquet will face a stern test in Beijing, where Djokovic has an unbeaten run stretching back to 2009.
But Gasquet heads into the game after a confidence-boosting straight-sets victory over world number four David Ferrer.
"He's an established top ten player now. He was always one of the most talented players in our generation," Djokovic said, after his crushing 6-1, 6-2 quarter-final victory over American Sam Querrey.
"I think in the last two years he's playing the tennis of his life. In terms of consistency, he's up there."
The pair meet at Beijing's National Tennis Centre during the evening session on Saturday for a place in the final against either Rafael Nadal or Tomas Berdych.
Djokovic's top spot in the world rankings is under threat in Beijing as second seed Nadal only has to reach the final to unseat him.
If he defeats Berdych, Nadal would become the new number one even if Djokovic reclaims the title he won last year with victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Djokovic has won three of the last four China Opens, and did not attend in 2011 due to injury.
He is expecting a tough battle against fifth seed Gasquet, who claimed victory over Spain's Ferrer 6-3, 6-4 in his quarter-final match.
"We are expecting a tough match for both of us, there is no question about it," he said.
"I need to be aggressive. I know what I need to do against him and hopefully it's going to work."