Federer outgunned by Gasquet in tiebreaker
Jurgen Melzer is no longer the only man outside of the world's top two to beat Roger Federer this year, after the Swiss was beaten in a highly watchable clash by Richard Gasquet in round three of the Rome Masters.
Federer has never won the Rome event, losing in both final appearances back in 2003 and 2006. He is not even the last Swiss to reach the tournament finale, after Stanislas Wawrinka lost to Novak Djokovic in 2008. That statistic will remain after he surrendered a one-set lead to lose 4-6 7-6(2) 7-6(4), as Gasquet set up a last-eight clash with Tomas Berdych.
Federer took an 8-1 head-to-head record into the encounter, and he broke in the opening game, before Gasquet forced a clutch of unforced errors to level at 2-2. Federer broke again for 5-3, completing a sumptuous backhand cross-court volley to allow himself to serve for the set. He did that in perfect fashion, to love, cemented by an ace.
However, Gasquet had been in fine form going into the match, dropping just eight games in his opening two matches, and he solidified in the second, answering Federer's break, before claiming a lop-sided tiebreaker to restore parity at one set all in the match.
The only time Gasquet had beaten Federer came on clay back in Monte Carlo in 2005, and he was about to produce a repeat, denying the Swiss any break opportunities in the final stanza. Federer was not playing the pressure points well, often committing unforced errors, and that proved decisive as Gasquet advanced in two hours and 20 minutes.
The Frenchman now plays Berdych, who came through 6-2 6-7(4) 6-2 against Jarkko Nieminen after over two-and-a-half hours on court.