Gasquet Reaches First Season Final; Faces del Potro
by ATP Staff|
Second-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet reached his first ATP final of the season after rallying from a set down to defeat No. 6 seed Agustin Calleri 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.
Both players struck 10 aces in the 2 hr., 4 min., encounter, but Gasquet was able to win 72% of points behind his serve and the score line could have been more comfortable for him had he converted on more than five of the 16 break point chances he created.
World No. 52 Calleri was looking to reach his first final on the ATP circuit since finishing runner-up to Nikolay Davydenko at 2006 New Haven. It is his second semifinal defeat of the season, having also fallen to Julien Benneteau in Casablanca. The 31-year-old has made quarterfinal exits at a further five ATP events this season.
The 22-year-old Gasquet had only won back-to-back matches on four occasions this season prior to arriving in Stuttgart. Currently eight places down on his career-high at No. 15 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, the Bezier native’s best result of the season had come at Queen’s Club, where he reached the quarterfinals (l. to Nalbandian).
The right-hander now improves to 19-13 for the season and will look to win his first ATP title since 2007 Mumbai (d. O. Rochus). He has a 5-5 lifetime record in ATP singles finals.
Gasquet won their one previous encounter last year in straight sets at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells.
The 19-year-old del Potro converted three of five break points and won 70% of points on serve to record his first ATP level victory over his doubles partner Schwank.
Schwank, who defeated former World No. 3 and 2003 champion Guillermo Coria in the first round, was contesting his first ATP singles semifinal having only won his first ATP-level match at Costa do Sauipe in February, where he went on to teach the quarterfinals (l. to Lapentti). A three-time titlist on the ATP Challenger Circuit, Schwank has improved his South African Airways ATP Ranking from No. 171 at the start of the year to No. 62.
World No. 65 del Potro, who defeated No. 4 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals, improves to 13-8 for the season, highlighted by a semifinal appearance at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (l. to Ferrer) and a quarterfinal exit at Munich (l. to El Aynaoui).
The Tandil resident is the sixth Argentine in the past six years to reach the Stuttgart final; both Coria (2003) and Guillermo Canas (’04) have gone on to win the title.