RENNES/STARNBERG, September 18, 2021
World No. 85 Richard Gasquet of France will lead the semi-final line-up at the Open Blot Rennes. The top seed of the €66,640 ATP Challenger hard-court tournament being held at Le Liberté in Rennes edged past Roman Safiullin of Russia 7-6(6), 7-5 on Friday evening.
Gasquet withstood 15 aces, saved all seven break points he faced and broke his opponent’s serve one time to seal victory in one hour and 53 minutes.
“I had often heard about the Open Blot Rennes, I knew that the Center Court was beautiful and that there was a great atmosphere,” said Gasquet, who is making his debut in Rennes this week. “I knew that when I came I would have the audience with me. I was tensed to win the match against an opponent who was better than me on a lot of shots. Having the support from great spectators, that’s important. I am very happy to be here.
“Roman didn’t have much to lose. He beat Murray, he played very well, I played a good tie-break, it was very difficult. I tried to fight, not to make mistakes, to make him play every time.”
The 35-year-old Beziers native is seeking is 10th ATP Challenger career title, his first since the 2017 Pekao Szczecin Open. Gasquet lifted his last trophy at the ATP 250 grass-court event in s’Hertogenbosch one year later.
Ça passe pour Richard Gasquet 🔥
Le Français s’est arraché pour aller chercher sa place en demi-finale face à Roman Safiullin 💪🏼
La tête de série n°1 affrontera Mats Moraing en demies 🎾
— Open Blot Rennes (@OpenBlotRennes) September 17, 2021
Gasquet will next take on in-form German Mats Moraing. The winner of last week’s NÖ Open in Tulln, Austria defeated Russian veteran Teymura Gabashvili 6-2, 7-6(3) in one hour and 14 minutes.
“I’m very happy, I played really well in the first set, the second was tight. At 5-4 I was serving for the game, and I became a little nervous. He played better and I made some stupid mistakes. I focused on the tie-break, I always believed in winning the match,” Moraing said.
“The crowd helped me a lot, especially towards the end of the match. The supporters are great and I enjoy playing here.”
Rinderknech beats Pouille, awaits Bonzi
In the bottom half of the draw, defending champion Arthur Rinderknech emerged victorious from the all-French encounter with No. 6 seed Lucas Pouille, winning 6-3, 7-6(3). The second favourite fired 12 aces and won 86 per cent of his first-service points to advance after one hour and 14 minutes.
“He’s a great player, a great guy, a great champion. He has demonstrated it, I hope he will have the chance to demonstrate it again,” Rinderknech said.
“He has played well for 10 days, and it’s nice to see. I’m very happy to have won against him. I felt better today, but to get through on the days when things aren’t going very well, it helps to improve. I hope I will feel even better in the next match.”
The World No. 77 from Saint-Gregoire will oppose red-hot Benjamin Bonzi in the stage of the final four. The five-time ATP Challenger titlist this season from France continued his fantastic run of form with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Liam Broady from Great Britain. The encounter lasted 69 minutes.