ESTORIL, Portugal (AFP) –
Richard Gasquet needed a workout before coming to grips with the game of Spain’s Albert Ramos as the second seed reached the final of the Estoril Open 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 7-5 on Saturday.
The marathon lasting just over three hours at the Estadio Nacional puts the 18th-ranked Frenchman into a Sunday title bid against the winner from Argentine holder and top seed Juan Martin del Potro or Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded third.
Second seed Gasquet last played in Estoril in 2007, but reached the final, where he lost to the then up-and-coming Serb Novak Djokovic.
“It was a very difficult win for me,” said Gasquet. “He is a tough player.
“He was attacking a lot and I had to defend all the time. He played very well, as clay is his best surface, he really made me work.
“I had to serve well in the end to get this win. I don’t care whom I play next, both del Potro and Stan are playing very well this week.”
Gasquet will be playing in his 15th career final on the ATP. He trails Del Potro 1-3 while beating Wawrinka in their only previous meeting six years ago indoors in Paris.
The Swiss-based Gasquet stands 6-8 in ATP finals, winning his last trophy two years ago in Nice. His last final was in Gstaad two months later.
The second seed committed 16 errors in a sloppy opening set which 42nd-ranked Casablanca finalist Ramos won easily. But despite baseline battling from both men, Gasquet began to find his rhythm, making a match of it in the second set.
The Frenchman recovered an early break and dominated in a tiebreaker to level the sets at one each.
The third set was drum-tight until Gasquet earned his only chance with a break for 6-5 with a winner at the net.
Gasquet took the hard-fought victory a game later as Ramos put out a return on his first match point.
Gasquet was playing his first semi-final since Rome a year ago.