ATP Antwerp: Richard Gasquet secures his place in the final with a comeback win over Kyle Edmund

Third seed Richard Gasquet secured his place in the European Open final with a battling win over first-time semifinalist Kyle Edmund 3-6, 7-5, 6-2. The Frenchman will face Diego Schwartzman in his third final of the year. 

Edmund started the match with huge hitting right from the outset. He bullied his way through the first set with Gasquet unable to control the firepower from the Brit's forehand, one break being enough to take him one set away from his first ATP World Tour final. The Brit looked to be cruising to another victory over Gasquet as he took an early break in the second but the veteran battled back and the last minute to take the second set and level the match. Edmund's level dropped significantly in the deciding set as Gasquet raised his game and sealed the win convincingly.  

Dominant display 

Edmund didn't take long to find his range as he flattened out his forehand on the first two points to hit two scorching winners. An ace and another forehand winner gave him the first hold of the match. Bullying groundstrokes from the Brit left Gasquet struggling at 0-30 on serve, but the Frenchman battled back and held on to his serve. Gasquet was trying to keep the ball away from the Edmund forehand as much as possible but the Brit proved that he can generate just as much power on his backhand and held easily to stay ahead at 2-1.  

Edmund at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Edmund at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Gasquet held serve easily and Edmund followed with a hold to love. The Brit was completely dominating whenever he had time on his forehand and, for the most part, completely overpowering Gasquet. Edmund kept the momentum rolling and won his eighth point in a row to break for a 4-2 lead. The Frenchman wasn't playing badly but was just struggling to find any way to deal with the power of Edmund.  

Danger appeared for Gasquet as he was serving to stay in the set and Edmund raced to 0-30, but the Frenchman held to put the pressure on his opponent as he served for the set. Gasquet gave it everything as he tried to claw his way back into the set. He fought his way to deuce by finding more depth on his shots and defending well to stay in rallies, but in the end, Edmund survived and battled to a 6-3 first set lead.  

Comeback battle 

The same pattern of the first set continued into the start of the second. Edmund hit with so much pace from the back of the court and Gasquet was often forced to drop the ball short just to stay in the rally. The Brit took full advantage of the short ball and hammered away the winners with his forehand. Gasquet fought and defended as much as he could but the perfect pattern gave Edmund a break of serve to start the second set. The world number 43 consolidated the break with another easy love hold to go 2-0 up and the Frenchman managed to keep hope alive with a love hold of his own.  

A rare opportunity came for Gasquet on return in the next game. He used his signature shot, the one-handed backhand, to open up the court and carve himself out a break point. The world number 19 tried a huge return on Edmund's second serve but it went long to bring them back to deuce. An ace got Edmund out of danger and he held to keep his lead intact.  

There was another opportunity for Edmund on return in the next game at 30-30 but the game went the way of Gasquet as he kept the deficit down to just one break. The Frenchman kept battling on return to try and get the break back. He had more chances at 15-30 but Edmund reeled off the next three points with some more big hitting to cement a 4-2 lead. 

Gasquet at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)
Gasquet at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

Another hold for Gasquet kept him in touch and in the next return game he pounced on the opportunity as Edmund had a lapse in focus to get the break back and level the set at 4-4. Any hopes of a comeback looked to be in danger as Edmund found himself with two break points. Gasquet refocused and saved the break points to go ahead for the first time in the match at 5-4.  

Edmund raced to an impressive love hold to reduce the disappointment of not taking the break points in the previous game. Edmund used his bullying forehands to push to a lead on return. There were opportunities to close out the match on return but at 30-30, he defended extremely well to stay in the rally but he messed up the final shot on the volley to give Gasquet game point and eventually the hold.  

The danger switched straight to Edmund as a horrible game on serve left Gasquet with three set points. He only needed the one as another error from the Brit gave Gasquet the second set, 7-5.  

Cruising to victory 

Gasquet got the deciding set underway with a convincing hold of serve, playing far more aggressively than he was at the start of the second set. Edmund followed with a good hold of his own to stay in touch early in the decider. The Brit then had more opportunities on return in the next game at 30-30 but he was unable to do anything with them and Gasquet held to stay ahead. 

The Frenchman was taking advantage of Edmund's drop in form and rushed to 0-40 on return. The Brit fought hard and found his focus to save all three break points, but Gasquet raised his level to earn another with a perfectly executed volley. Edmund responded with an ace and a bit of luck as the ball hit the net and just rolled over to the other side of the court gave the Brit a game point.

Another break point came and went for the Frenchman as Edmund produced a perfect passing shot while under pressure. Two more break points were saved but a punishing backhand down the line eventually gave the Frenchman the break and a lead in the deciding set. 

Gasquet at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)
Gasquet at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

Gasquet consolidated the break to extend his lead to 4-1. Edmund's level was far below that of the level that he started the match with but he managed to hang on to his serve and keep the deficit down to just one break. 

The third seed was cruising through on serve as Edmund's chances to break back were quickly disappearing. The Brit's efforts of the past week looked to be catching up with him as his shots began to look tired and Gasquet earned himself a couple of match points. In the end, he only needed one and the Frenchman took the decider 6-2 to secure his place in the final.