New York - French eighth seed Richard Gasquet reached his first US Open semi-final on Wednesday with a rollercoaster 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-4 win over David Ferrer, the Spanish fourth seed.
Gasquet, whose only previous appearance in the last four at a major was at Wimbledon in 2007, is the first Frenchman to get to the semi-finals in New York since Cedric Pioline in 1999.
It was only his second win in 10 meetings with Ferrer, a series which had also seen him claim just two sets out of 20.
Gasquet will face world No 2 Rafael Nadal, against whom he has lost all 10 meetings as a professional, although he did beat the great Spaniard in their junior days, in the semi-finals.
"I beat him when I was 13 in a junior tournament. Rafa is a good friend of mine so if I play him it will be great," said Gasquet.
Gasquet had played the longest match of the tournament to see off Milos Raonic in the fourth round but he showed no ill effects from that four-hour-40-minute slugfest as he raced through the first two sets against Ferrer.
His majestic one-handed backhand was working overtime as Ferrer, a semi-finalist in 2007 and 2010, struggled.
But the 31-year-old Spaniard summoned up his trademark pugnacious instincts to claw his way back.
Ferrer, who has made at least the quarter-finals in his past eight majors, levelled the quarter-final, although Gasquet had his chances in a 13-minute sixth game where he carved out three break points.
But gallant Gasquet grabbed the crucial break in the sixth game of the decider when Ferrer double-faulted and took the match courtesy of a swinging forehand winner.
In a tight contest, Gasquet finished with 52 winners to Ferrer's 40 with the 27-year-old Frenchman collecting just five points more.
"I played a great match at the start despite the wind in the stadium. But David is a great fighter and I was a little tired after a big match with Raonic," said Gasquet.
"I got the break in the final set and it's an amazing feeling to be in the semi-finals. I have played a lot of five sets in my career but I still needed to play big to get the victory."
The two remaining quarter-finals will be played on Thursday when top seed Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion who has not dropped a set so far, takes on Russian 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny, a two-time semi-finalist.
Defending champion Andy Murray, the third seed, meets Stanislas Wawrinka, the ninth-seeded Swiss.
US Open results on Wednesday (x denotes seeded player):
Richard Gasquet (FRA x8) bt David Ferrer (ESP x4) 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Tommy Robredo (ESP x19) 6-0, 6-2, 6-2
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) bt Roberta Vinci (ITA x10) 6-4, 6-1
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x2) bt Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 6-2, 6-3
Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo (CRO/BRA x10) bt Treat Huey/Dominic Inglot (PHI/GBR x16) 7-5, 6-3
Sania Mirza/Zheng Jie (IND/CHN x10) bt Hsieh Su-Wei/Peng Shuai (TPE/CHN x4) 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)
Ashleigh Barty/Casey Dellacqua (AUS/AUS x8) bt Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS/RUS x2) 6-2, 6-3
Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka (CZE/CZE x5) bt Nadia Petrova/Katarina Srebotnik (RUS/SLO x3) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
Abigail Spears/Santiago Gonzalez (USA/MEX) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues/Bruno Soares (ESP/BRA x5) 6-3, 6-1
Andrea Hlavackova/Max Mirnyi (CZE/BLR x7) bt Kristina Mladenovic/Daniel Nestor (FRA/CAN) 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 12-10