Rome – round 3rd + QF’s
David Ferrer is one of the worst match-ups for Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman has just won 2 out of 17 sets he played against the Spaniard, 14 of those sets he lost, were pretty one-sided. Today they played a tie-break for the first time, in which Gasquet led 4:2 only to lose five points in succession. In the 2nd set things were going towards another tie-break but Ferrer stepped up at 4:3, made three forehand winners in a row to break Gasquet to ‘love’ and finished him off in the following game easily, the final score 7-6 6-3. It was the only quarterfinal on Supertennis Arena, second biggest court in Rome. “[It was a] tough match and I am happy getting into the semi-finals,” said Ferrer, “When I won the first set it was easier and I saw he was more tired than me.”
As the first players on Campo Centrale appeared Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych. Their rivalry is similar to that of Ferrer and Gasquet. Berdych can’t find a way to beat Rafa, although had won 3 out of their first 4 meetings. Since then it’s all been Nadal. Today he gained 11th consecutive win (including a 20-sets winning streak!) over the Czech not being close to lose any of those encounters. Berdych led *4:2 in the 2nd set but on a game point committed a double fault and Nadal soon notched a 6-4 7-5 victory in 2 hours 6 minutes. Berdych in each of his last three tournaments was ousted by a Top 3 player. Rafa is bidding to win Rome for the sixth time (Thomas Muster won three times; Ilie Nastase, Vitas Gerulaitis, Bjorn Borg, Andres Gomez, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier and Novak Djokovic twice). Djokovic had very little trouble in dispatching Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 6-1. The Serb led respectively 3:0 and 5:0 in these sets. In the 12th game of the 1st set Tsonga staved off a triple set point in spectacular style but on a 4th set point committed a painful double fault (didn’t even risk the second serve) and fell apart. Andreas Seppi had wonderful tournament but was too tired after back-to-back thrillers to play on equal terms the last quarterfinal (started at 10 p.m.) against Roger Federer. The Swiss needed just 54 minutes to get a 6-1 6-2 win. Seppi was stopped by Federer also in his previous best ‘1000’ tournament, as he reached semifinals four years ago (the Italian won then only one game more)… So, the four best clay-court players will face each other in tomorrow’s semifinals, they are gathered together in the final four for the first time. I’m glad Djokovic meets Federer because they haven’t played so far in 2012.
It was very windy day, the conditions were extremely difficult and bothering the defending champion Novak Djokovic, who plays this tournament in a new outfit (white-blue-red strips) underlying national colors. As usual he’d presented himself during a night session match in a black version of the new outfit whilst his early match (started at 12 a.m.) against Juan Monaco demonstrated a white one. Monaco  who had previously lost all five matches to Djokovic, was hitting the ball very hard today over an hour of play. The stunned Djokovic broke his racquet in the last game of the 1st set (Monaco clinched it on the 5th set point). The Argentine led a set and a break, but couldn’t keep his focus and lost 10 straight points since serving at 2:1 in the 2nd set. In the deciding set D’Joke delivered the final blow at *3:3 (0/30) when he increased his concentration to win 12 out of the next 16 points and the match 4-6 6-2 6-3 in 2 hours 20 minutes. “Mental strength is what is needed, especially when you are playing against a player who has already won two tournaments on this surface this year already and is playing with confidence,” Djokovic stated.
In a much more longer 3-setter (2:58 h) on Supertennis Arena (the second biggest court in Rome) Richard Gasquet avenged three straight defeats to Andy Murray (all in majors) beating the Brit 6-7 6-3 6-2. The crucial game of the match came at one-all in the final set. The serving Gasquet led 40/0 but Murray manufactured three break points, Gasquet  eventually took the game after seven ‘deuces’. Both 25-year-old guys were semifinalists last year. In the quarterfinals Gasquet meets one of his toughest opponents – David Ferrer. The Spaniard was twice a game away on return to lose the set before dismissed Gilles Simon 6-0 7-6. Simon was involved in streaks of games won by one player over the course of two days: yesterday he lost five straight games to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, then won six in a row (coming back from a 0:4 deficit in the deciding set!), and began today’s match with Ferrer losing the first seven games.
Andreas Seppi won an incredible 3-hour-21-minute battle (the longest 3-setter of the year) against Stanislas Wawrinka after three tie-breaks, surviving six match points (three on return)! The Italian player received a tremendous support from the home crowd, Wawrinka on the other hand was booed a couple times for different reasons. Anyway he had the match in his hands, admittedly not in the 2nd set tie-break where Seppi fought off the first m.p. with a service winner. In the deciding set Wawrinka led 5:2 (deuce), then was serving at 5:3 (40/15): on both match points the net-cord halted the ball on his side, first after a shaky forehand, then after a long rally with many slices which Wawrinka wanted to cut with a drop-shot. The Swiss led 6:5* (30/0) afterwards – Seppi responded with three straight forehand winners! Third and final tie-break was amazing, Seppi led 3:0* and quickly lost six points in a row which meant a triple match point against him: the first one, Italian player saved with a cross-court forehand; on another two, Wawrinka missed backhands (net & wide DTL). Another two errors of the Swiss and Seppi could celebrate the biggest ‘best of three’ win of his life on knees. He’s been the first Italian quarter-finalist in Rome since Filippo Volandri in 2007. It’s Seppi’s 200th ATP tournament in career.
# Seppi’s match point down wins:
US Open 2004: R.Schuettler 3-6 4-6 7-6(5) 7-6(1) 6-1 – 2 m.p.
Sydney 2006: L.Hewitt 4-6 7-5 7-5 – 2 m.p.
Australian Open 2007: B.Reynolds 6-1 6-7(4) 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-3 – 1 m.p.
Rotterdam 2008: L.Hewitt 3-6 7-6(4) 7-6(4) – 1 m.p.
Nottingham 2008: E.Schwank 6-1 4-6 7-6(7) – 1 m.p.
New Haven 2009: L.Yen-Hsun 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5 – 3 m.p.
Bastad 2010: P.Starace 6-4 3-6 7-6(7) – 1 m.p.
Marseille 2011: R.Haase 5-7 6-4 7-6(2) – 2 m.p.
Rome 2012: S.Wawrinka 6-7(1) 7-6(6) 7-6(6) – 6 m.p.
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