New York - Roger Federer is impressed by Richard Gasquet's recent play, one
guy with a sweet one-handed backhand appreciating another.
The 17-time major champion remembers what Gasquet did against Federer's
countryman, Stan Wawrinka, in the quarter-finals of the previous major.
The Frenchman won the fifth set 11-9 at Wimbledon with the sort of gritty
performance he hasn't been known for in his career.
Now he meets Federer in the US Open quarter-finals on Wednesday night.
"I'm not sure if I've seen maybe Gasquet play as well as he has right
now," Federer said.
At Wimbledon, the Swiss great added, "He had a good attitude. He was
fighting. Good shot selection. It was nice. Now he's backing it up."
In last year's Davis Cup final, Federer beat Gasquet in straight sets to
clinch the title for Switzerland, part of his 14-2 record against the
"He kind of went away" is how Federer describes his opponent's
performance that day. At two straight majors now, the 12th-seeded Gasquet is
showing signs that won't happen again.
A one-time teen prodigy who won the US Open junior title at age 16, Gasquet,
now 29, is still trying to fulfill that promise.
"I feel like this could be one of the tougher Gasquets I've played in
previous years," Federer said, "so I expect it to be difficult."
The winner of their match will face Wawrinka or Kevin Anderson. Wawrinka is
a two-time major champion, while Anderson is making his first Grand Slam
quarterfinal appearance after stunning Andy Murray on Monday. Yet the
big-serving South African is the one who has won their last four meetings.
"I feel like I'm able - at least I have been in our matches - to stay
with him from the back," Anderson said. "When I've been aggressive,
I've been able to keep him at bay."
He hopes the US Open fans will embrace him as one of their own. Anderson is
working to become an American citizen, though he doesn't plan to represent the
United States in competition. He has lived in the country for a decade - he
played college tennis at Illinois - and his wife, a former Illini golfer, is
At age 29, Anderson has reached a career-high ranking of 14th. His next
opponent is the perfect role model for his faith that he can peak in his early
30s. Wawrinka was almost 29 when he won his first major title at the Australian
Open last year. Anderson believes the late start to his pro career saved wear
and tear on his body.
"He knows what it takes," Anderson said of Wawrinka. "He's
been in that position. It's my first time, but I feel like I'm hitting the ball
Wednesday's two women's quarterfinals pit a player who always seems to
thrive at the US Open against one who used to wilt in New York's late-summer
Two-time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka, whose ranking is down to
20th after two injury-plagued seasons, took Serena Williams to three sets in the
2012 and '13 US Open finals and has been giving some glimpses of that level of
play. Her opponent, Simona Halep, may be seeded second, but this is her first
quarterfinal at Flushing Meadows.
In the first match, 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta is in the US Open quarters
for the sixth time in seven years. Asked about visiting New York, she said that
"for two weeks is perfect. More? No."
"It's too crowded," she explained. "Too much traffic. I am a
person for a small city."
Petra Kvitova would agree - and she has made clear in the past she doesn't
even enjoy two weeks in the big city.
Not that she had ever stayed that long. This is the first US Open
quarter-final appearance for the two-time Wimbledon champ.
She didn't expect 2015 would be the year to break the drought after she
suffered from mononucleosis this summer. Strangely enough, the illness might
have contributed to her breakthrough run: She felt less pressure of
expectations and less fatigue because she hasn't been able to practice as much.
And the fifth-seeded Kvitova is working harder to embrace the bustle of the
Big Apple. She tweeted a photo Tuesday of herself hailing a cab with the
comment: "Do I look like a New Yorker or what?!"