MARSEILLE, February 19, 2016
Six of the eight seeds were in action on quarterfinals Friday at the Open 13 in Marseille with only one local making it into the stage of the final four.
Nick Kyrgios cruised past third seed Richard Gasquet 6-0, 6-4, gaining a second win over the Frenchman in the pair’s sixth tour meeting. The 20-year-old Australian, who marked his Marseille debut with a straight sets victory over Vasek Pospisil before beating doubles partner Teymuraz Gabashvili, opened his quarterfinal with a bagel in under half an hour, hitting winners at will. Gasquet needed 26 minutes to get on the scoreboard in order to find his rhythm but Kyrgios was just to strong, firing 17 aces and winning 96% of his first service points. The encounter lasted only 59 minutes.
“I served really well. I played pretty good and I am happy with my performance,” Kyrgios summarized his performance. “I have been playing very well here all week. I knew what my game plan was going to be. I stayed calm and put pressure on his service games and it worked out.” The Australian ousted Gasquet only for the second time on the tour, following his victory in Wimbledon 2014.
“He beat me a couple of times, as he is a great player obviously. But I feel like I got better during the last couple of months, returning better. I am able to get in the service games a lot more,” Kyrgios said and enjoys his stay in Marseille.
“Obviously spectators were behind Richard today but I think the crowd is really good this week,” he told and also had a visit to the football match of Olympique Marseille in the Euro League yesterday at the Stade Velodrome, which is located right next to the Palais des Sports.
“The atmosphere was really cool. I haven’t been to many soccer matches but it was a lot of fun. When I was young, I played a bit of junior soccer,” Kyrgios told and added that he follows the matches of Tottenham Hotspurs.
“I am playing Dubai next week, then Davis Cup and Indian Wells, so this is actually getting pretty hectic the next weeks. I am not really looking for coach, I know on what I have to work on. I have a lot of good people in my team giving me good tactics before I play. I rather have good mates in my corner than someone I do not really know,” the youngster explained.
Gasquet simply had to admit the defeat.
“Nick played unbelievable today, 100% of his game and his mental condition. I think that I was a bit slow on the court and didn’t play my best level but I have nothing to say. He just played and well,” Gasquet said after losing his first match of the season.
“I haven’t feeling good during the last three to six days but of course this is not an excuse to lose. The tournament in Montpellier was exhausting and then I fell ill. It was not possible for me to play at highest level today and my opponent played great and served big. So that’s how it goes,” the world number 12 continued.
“Losing a set 0-6 is obviously bad and not a nice experience but it can happen. That’s the sport, that’s tennis. Nick played quicker and hit the ball better. Of course it is dissapointing to lose in the quarterfinals but in two weeks my game will be better again but it won’t be the last time that I fall in a quarterfinal,” Gasquet told with a smile and added: “I will have a short rest now and a couple of practice sessions. Then the tour continues.”
Second seed Tomas Berdych returned to Marseille for the sixth time and advanced to his second semi-final of the season, following Doha, as he ousted the tournament’s number six David Goffin 6-3, 6-4. The 30-year-old Czech lost his service only once and capitalized on three of his 10 break point chances to prevail in one hour and 16 minutes.
“I was playing well, I was playing solid right from the beginning. I am pleased with all the way of the match. There were no up and downs like yesterday and I just played a solid game,” Berdych was satisfied afterwards. In his opening encounter on Thursday, he had to work hard in order to overcome Alex Zverev.
“It is always good to have a test like that when you survived it and you go through. I am not saying that the next one is always going easier but you are able and capable to play well straight from the first round gives you extra confidence and that’s what I was using today,” the world number eight continued and is looking forward to the semi-finals.
“It is very important to stay focused tomorrow, just try to see only my side of the court. I will just try to creat my chances and that’s it,” Berdych will face Kyrgios for the second time after he had defeated the Australian in the first major of the season in four sets.
Atmosphere heated up again in the evening hours when the second local Benoit Paire stepped into action against the tournament’s number one Stan Wawrinka. The latter came into the match with a comfortable 6-1 head to head lead over the Frenchman but Paire emerged victorious this time, winning 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. Paire only put 49% of his first service in, won less points than his opponent but was wide awake in the decisive moments when he gained his third break in the 12th game of the third set to close the encounter after one hour and 51 minutes.
“I hope to play better but I think it was a good level tonight. We were both playing well and I had a few chances to take the lead as well as the match. Especially in the first set, in the opening game when I played a couple of points, which I shouldn’t miss. But he played great and deserved the win,” Wawrinka told afterwards and is heading for Dubia next.“We will play outdoors in hot conditions, so I am trying to leave as soon as possible in order to prepare for the tournament.”
“I was feeling really good on court today, although it is not easy to play against Stan, as he is my best friend. I just wanted to play my game, trying to do my best to win the match. That’s the difference between today and the match in Shanghai. My backhand, forehand, serve – everything was here today. At the moment I feel really good on every shot,” Paire told about his key to success, ending his three match losing streak to Wawrinka.
Paire will take on fourth seed Marin Cilic next, who eased past Andrey Kuznetsov, winning 6-3, 6-4. The world number 12 from Croatia didn’t face a break point, sending down 10 aces to advance after 65 minutes.
“I expected a maybe tougher match, as Andrey is playing well from the back of the court but I took the rhythm out of him and served pretty well. I was forcing the game on his second serve, try to put pressure on him and this worked out. I am very happy to execute this kind of tactic and obviously it went extremely well from the beginning to the end,” Cilic told Tennis TourTalk afterwards.
“The surface suits me well but it is also a bit tricky. Sometimes, it feels that you have to hit the balls harder but this isn’t necessarily always the best thing. You have to find the right balance, which I think did pretty well today,” the Croat told about the conditions on Court Central and is going to play his first semi-final since Moscow 2015.
“I try to gain confidence playing well, match after match. Results do matter of course in the end but I am trying to work on my game, do the things that are right for me. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. But I think I am on the right way this week,” Cilic is looking forward to his second meeting with Paire on Saturday. The French won the only previous meeting in Chennai 2013.
“Benoit is an extremely talented guy, very dangerous. It is definetely going to be a nice match. I just try to prepare on my own game. This is the priority for me at this part of the season in order to get better.”
Earlier the day, second seeds Ante Pavic and Michael Venus reached their third doubles final of the season, beating Aliaksandr Bury and Igor Zelenay 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 10 minutes. The Croat and the New Zealand had already claimed two titles in 2016, lifting the trophies in Auckland and Montpellier.
They will face Jonathan Erlich and Colin Fleming for the title. The Israeli-British-combination defated Teymuraz Gabashvili and Nick Kyrgios 6-2, 7-6 in 69 minutes.