PARIS — The wait had better be worth it for tennis fans when Richard Gasquet finally takes on Andy Murray in the French Open quarterfinals – weather allowing on Wednesday.
Since they won their third-round matches on Sunday, it has rained almost non-stop at Roland Garros, washing out Monday and most of Tuesday.
The second-seeded Murray munched on an energy bar as he watched No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s rain-interupted fourth-round match against No. 14 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Tuesday. The Murray vs. Gasquet match was supposed to follow the conclusion of Djokovic’s match and then No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 18 Elina Svitolina.
Gasquet should be patient by now, having never previously reached the last eight at the French Open since first playing here in 2002 – just short of his 16th birthday.
Murray and Gasquet are both 29, and Gasquet was the more talented early on, winning their first two meetings in 2006 and 2007 – the year Gasquet reach the Wimbledon semifinals as a 21-year-old. He should really have won their next encounter, too, wasting a two-set lead in the fourth round at Wimbledon the following year.
After that, Murray’s trajectory went up – two Grand Slam titles, an Olympic gold medal and seven other Grand Slam finals – while Gasquet’s form mostly stagnated, with rare highs being semifinals at the U.S. Open in 2013 and two years later at Wimbledon.
Murray has won their last five meetings – including in the fourth round of the French Open in 2012 – but Gasquet has taken confidence from an impressive win against No. 5 Kei Nishikori in the fourth round.
Meanwhile, Djokovic is looking to reach his 10th French Open quarterfinal. He’s never lost to Bautista Agut.
Neither has Williams against Svitolina, leading her 3-0.
Nor has No. 3 Stan Wawrinka against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and the defending champion leads the Spaniard 6-0 heading into their quarterfinal. Three of those wins are on clay, the most recent in the second round on his way to his victory at the Geneva Open.
That should give beleagured French Open organizers some hope those matches could be completed quickly as they face a serious backlog.
One of these is a potential fourth-round clash between No. 7 Tomas Berdych and No. 11 David Ferrer.
Ferrer, who leads 8-6 in their head-to-heads, will be 2-1 up when they resume in the first set; while Ernests Gulbis – a semifinalist here two years ago – is 3-0 up in the first set against No. 12 David Goffin of Belgium; and it’s one set each between No. 13 Dominic Thiem and Marcel Granollers.
WOMEN’S QUARTERFINALS: American Shelby Rogers could reach the semifinals before Serena and her older sister Venus Williams – who is also playing in the fourth round.
But Rogers, unseeded, must first get the better of No. 4 Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who is determined to reach the last four after losing in the quarterfinals for the past two years.
Meanwhile, Samantha Stosur will be looking to reach the semis for the fourth time and the bad news for her opponent – Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria – is that Stosur has won all her three quarterfinals here. The 32-year-old Australian reached the final in 2010, losing to Francesca Schiavone.
WOMEN’S 4th-ROUND MATCHES: Three other women’s fourth-round matches are scheduled for Wednesday, with No. 9 Venus Williams taking on No. 8 Timea Bacsinszky. The seven-time Grand Slam champion leads Bacsinszky 2-0 – beating her two years ago at the U.S. Open and six years earlier at the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Bacsinszky lost to Serena Williams in a tense semifinal here last year.
Also, Kiki Bertens faces No. 15 Madison Keys in their first meeting and No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro plays Yulia Putintseva.