Andy Murray and Richard Gasquet renew old rivalry in Miami
Last Updated: 30/03/13 12:54am
Richard Gasquet: Set to test Andy Murray in Miami
Andy Murray renews his old rivalry with Richard Gasquet in the semi-finals of the Miami Masters tonight.
The pair know each other well, having come through the junior ranks together and on the senior tour they have met seven times, Murray currently edging the head-to-head record 4-3.
Gasquet, the eighth seed, has knocked out Olivier Rochus, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicolas Alamagro and Tomas Berdych - who beat him at Indian Wells - to set up a crack at Murray in the semis (tonight from 11pm).
The Frenchman is in the form of his life with all the signs that he is finally beginning to deliver on the talent that, when he was a teenager, saw him tipped as a future world No 1.
He has won two titles already this season, in Doha and Montpellier, and although Gasquet concedes Murray is very much the favourite, he fancies his chances.
He told the ATP website: "Murray can do everything on the tennis court. He's very clever. He's an unbelievable player - but I know his game. I think we played a lot of times already in the past, but for sure he will be the favorite. I have nothing to lose and I will try to play a good match."
Two of Murray's four wins over Gasquet were in memorably dramatic circumstances.
Gasquet won their first two encounters, in 2006 and 2007, but Murray came back from two sets down to beat him in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2008.
The following year Murray did exactly the same at the French Open, pulling off another five-set escape act in the first round in Paris.
In 2011 Murray hammered him in straight sets at Wimbledon but then lost on the clay in Rome in 2012.
Their last meeting was also last year, again at the French Open and Murray, after losing the first set, won in four in the fourth round.
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Just over a decade ago, Gasquet was the darling of French tennis and seemed to have the world at his feet.
In 2002, at the age of 15, he became the youngest player to qualify for a Masters tournament, and the second youngest to play in the French Open - taking a set off the eventual champion Alberto Costa in the first round.
He was the undisputed world No 1 junior, and in 2003 he became the youngest player to finish the season in the top 100 in the world.
And since then - nothing much. Injuries have taken their toll over the years but so too perhaps has the weight of French expectation, which was huge.
Now fully fit and focused, Gasquet is enjoying his tennis, and the last few years have seen him climb on average 10 places in the rankings per annum to his current place at No 10.
He has always been one of the most talented players on the tour - indeed ask the top players whose shot they would most like to have, Gasquet's magnificent one-handed backhand is often mentioned as on a par with Roger Federer's.
Traditionally Gasquet has been viewed as a defensive player, stationed deep behind the baseline, but in the last year he has been much more aggressive, which may help explain his rise up the rankings.
When he is in form - and he is - Gasquet is one of those players the top four want to avoid and his clash with Murray could well see another tense thriller.