Gasquet blows U.S. Open chance, eyes World Tour final

By Will Swanton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Frenchman Richard Gasquet set his sights on reaching the ATP World Tour Finals after being blown away by Spain's Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open on Saturday.

Gasquet conceded his 6-4 7-6(1) 6-2 defeat with two straight double faults.

He showed fight in the second set, breaking Nadal after the Spaniard had won 88 consecutive games on his own serve.

But needing two more victories to become the first Frenchman to win the U.S. Open since Henri Cochet in 1928, Gasquet was overcome in two hours, 21 minutes inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Gasquet, 10th on the rankings for the race to the tour finals in London, will rise after his first major semi-final appearance since Wimbledon in 2007.

The top eight players at the end of the year will qualify for what used to be known as the Masters Cup.

"This year, when I started the year, I wanted to play the Masters Cup," Gasquet said.

"I think I'm in the top 10 for the race, so for sure it's a big achievement for me. I'm still in the race to do that, and I will try to play London this year.

It's a good year for me to play semis here. It's a big result for me."

Gasquet said Nadal, who now meets world number one Novak Djokovic in the final on Monday, was simply the superior player.

"I was close to winning the second set," he said.

"If I could win the tie-break, you never know what could have happened in the third. But I think he was a little bit better than me. No problem with that."

Nadal's serving streak owed more to accuracy than speed. His quickest delivery against Gasquet was 123mph, but he landed 71 per cent of his first serves.

"I don't know if it's a victory to win his serve," Gasquet said.

"I'm not sure about that. I think it's better to win one set or more.

"In a grand slam it's even tougher to play against him because it's three sets to win. I did not play a bad match but it was three sets to love and he was the best on the court.

"It's Nadal. That's why he's the best player. I'm happy with the tournament I did."

Gasquet's deflating finish, with the consecutive double faults, could not dent his pride at having beaten Canada's Milos Raonic and Spain's David Ferrer in order to make the last four.

"I can take a lot of confidence from this tournament because I played five sets twice, and I won them," Gasquet said.

"Physically I played well. Mentally I was tough, too. I did two big matches against Raonic and Ferrer. So for sure it's very nice. I know I can play long matches.

"I know I'm ready to win this fight, and that's big for me."

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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