French Open quarterfinal preview: Richard Gasquet - Andy Murray

French Open quarterfinal preview: Richard Gasquet - Andy Murray

In a blockbuster last eight encounter, 9th seed Richard Gasquet takes on 2nd seed Andy Murray for a place in the French Open semifinals.

oliver-dickson-jefford
Oliver Dickson Jefford

One of the two men’s quarterfinal matches on Tuesday sees ninth seed, and home favorite, Richard Gasquet take on second seed Andy Murray for a place in the last four. The winner will face third seed, and defending champion, Stan Wawrinka or Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the semifinals of the 2016 French Open.

Gasquet is making his last eight debut in Paris and is looking to make the semifinals at a third different Grand Slam tournament, after twice doing it at Wimbledon and once at the US Open, whilst Murray is looking to make his third consecutive semifinal in Paris, and his fourth at the tournament overall.

So far in Paris

Murray has had the more difficult road of the two so far. He was not at his best in his first two matches, beating both qualifier Radek Stepanek and Mathias Bourgue in five sets, though has been in better form since then, beating 27th seed Ivo Karlovic and 15th seed John Isner in straight sets. He isn’t yet at his best, but he’s playing well now and will be tough to beat.

Andy Murray celebrates a point during his fourth round victory over John Isner (Getty/Clive Brunskill)
Andy Murray celebrates a point during his fourth round victory over John Isner (Getty/Clive Brunskill)

Gasquet has been extremely impressive so far at his home major. He recorded three solid straight sets victories over Thomaz Bellucci, Bjorn Fratangelo and 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, before putting in a solid four set win over Kei Nishikori to reach this stage; he’ll be extremely hard to beat in this tournament.

Analysis

The biggest factor for Gasquet will be whether he is able to bring the form he has had so far at Roland Garros; in the past, he hasn’t always brought his best to the big matches he’s played in. Clearly the most important shot for the 9th seed is his one-handed backhand, which he should use to try and dictate play, and his serving will also be key, especially in terms of dictating play and finishing points off early; he must do the latter, as Murray is likely to win the longer rallies.

Richard Gasquet will need to have his backhand firing well to have a good chance of victory (Getty/Dennis Grombowski)
Richard Gasquet will need to have his backhand firing well to have a good chance of victory (Getty/Dennis Grombowski)

One advantage Murray has is that his game is arguably stronger than Gasquet’s, so should certainly win if he is at his best; however, he hasn’t been so far, which means Gasquet has a decent chance. The second seed must look to serve well and avoid playing too many points to the 9th seeds backhand, whilst Murray must also look to use his strong defense to hang in points and frustrate the Frenchman into making errors. In a battle of the backhands, the Brit should try to dictate with his two-hander as much as possible.

Head to Head

Murray leads the head to head 7-3, with only two of their previous meetings (a win for Murray at Wimbledon in 2011 and for Gasquet at the Rogers Cup in 2006) decided in straight sets. The Brit has won their past four meetings, including a three set win in the indoor tournament in Paris last year, and has won both their meetings at the French Open in the past.

Assessment

This could be an exciting encounter and the crowd will certainly be into this, though it seems that Murray could disappoint them. Gasquet has been playing well and won’t make it easy, though the 2nd seed should be able to see off the Frenchman’s challenge.

Prediction: Andy Murray in four sets

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