Having come so close in the first two editions of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, Richard Gasquet is finally through to the championship match after surviving a sudden-death thriller against Taylor Fritz in Antwerp on Saturday.
"Yeah, I played well, of course," Gasquet said after clinching the final berth. "Last time was tough to lose twice in semis but was a good one this time. I played to reach the final.”
Against Feliciano Lopez in the opening rubber of the day, Gasquet couldn’t have asked for a better match, where he won all four quarters against the Spaniard. From the get-go, the Frenchman latched his jaws into the match and never let off.
“It’s a great start,” Gasquet said. “I’m doing a great job in UTS, I’m feeling confident. You need not to miss, to return well, not to give free points.”
Finding himself one win away from advancing, the 34-year-old continued his run as he won the first two quarters against Fritz, making it six straight quarters in a row. The American, who was playing his first series, had trouble adjusting to the innovative format.
“I’m struggling too much while I’m thinking about these cards too much,” Fritz told his coach and good friend Tommy Paul.
“You still got plenty of time,” Paul responded.
“I wanted an ace so bad on those last two so I can get the x3 and I just missed both serves,” Fritz continued.
Paul's response was accurate because, slowly but surely, Fritz found his footing as he won the next two quarters to send the match to an exhilarating sudden death but was not able to close the deal.
In Sunday's final, Gasquet will face off against Alex de Minaur. The 21-year-old Aussie went eight for eight against Dan Evans and Pablo Andujar on Friday.