On a day seemingly themed by Australia vs France matchups in various sporting disciplines across the globe, Bernard Tomic will face Richard Gasquet for a spot in the Rosmalen final. The enigmatic Tomic, once ranked as high as world #17, has fallen from grace in the past year to the point where he is now ranked 181st in the world. Gasquet, formerly a top ten player, has also dropped down the world rankings list, albeit not as dramatically; the 31 year old is now ranked #30. Who will come out on top?
Tomic and Gasquet have met nine times in the past, and it has been the Frenchman who has generally had the better of the matchups. Gasquet has won seven of the nine matches, with all but one of these victories coming in straight sets. Tomic, however, managed to snare a victory in the most important match the two have played when he won a tight 7-6 5-7 7-5 7-6 round of 32 clash at Wimbledon, back in 2013.
The two have met on all different surfaces, with three of their previous outings on grass. One of these, of course, was Tomic’s win at Wimbledon, but the other two have seen Gasquet take home the victory; once in Eastbourne in the second round, and in their most recent clash, in Halle last year, again in the second round.
Path to the semifinal
Neither man has lost a set during the tournament so far. Tomic, a qualifier, started off his tournament with a routine 6-4 6-2 win over America’s Kevin King, before disposing of sixth seed Robin Haase with a 6-3 7-5 victory. His quarterfinal match saw a triumph against the experienced Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who recently made the fourth round at Roland Garros, but who Tomic fought off in two tight sets, 6-4 7-6.
Gasquet, like each of the top four seeds, started off with a bye, walking through to the second round where he faced Evgeny Donskoy. The Frenchman had no problems in that match, winning 6-2 6-2, but like Tomic, he faced a much bigger challenge in the quarterfinals. That match was against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the number five seed, who managed to push him to consecutive tiebreakers. Gasquet, however, won them both, earning a spot in the semis with a 7-6 7-6 win.
How do they match up?
Both of these players have fairly unique playing styles, making for an interesting matchup. Tomic is renowned for his unorthodox technique; though he has plenty of size, he generally relies on finesse rather than power, regularly pushing back awkward, off pace groundstrokes from both wings, and often employing a forehand slice. When necessary, though, he can call upon significant power, making him a difficult prospect for any opponent.
Gasquet is, of course, famous for his single-handed backhand. One of the most graceful and efficient in the game's history, Gasquet became a top ten player largely on the back of this shot. It is a clear strength, though he is also a solid mover and volleys well. He does, however, tend to err on the side of defence, so expect him to spend large periods of this match well beyond the baseline. Moreover, his forehand is somewhat lacking as a weapon.
Tomic has the capacity to go toe-to-toe with the best players in the world when he is on his game, but he is still working his way back to that point. Gasquet, in contrast, is experienced and relatively reliable, and will feel confident heading into this one. It will be an intriguing game to watch though, with the unusual game style of Tomic and the graceful backhand of Gasquet making for a watchable clash, one the Frenchman will win in three sets.