The 2016 Winston-Salem Open has been filled with upsets, a trend that continued in Thursday's quarterfinal matches.
Inconsistent over his first two matches, top-seeded Richard Gasquet finally met his match in John Millman.
The unseeded Australian recorded eight aces and broke Gasquet five times on his way to a 7-5, 6-3 upset. Neither player was especially strong on his serve, with both putting less than 60 percent of their first serves in play; Gasquet won just 52 percent of his service points for the match.
“It was tough out there,” Millman said, per John Delong of the tournament's official website. “Obviously I’ve got a lot of respect for Richard. I grew up watching him play. I love the way he plays. So to be able to compete with him today and go out there and beat him is very satisfying. I’m extremely proud of myself.”
|John Millman def. (1) Richard Gasquet||7-5, 6-3|
|(2) Roberto Bautista Agut def. Yen-Hsun Lu||6-3, 6-2|
|(9) Viktor Troicki def. (15) Fernando Verdasco||6-4, 3-6, 6-4|
|(16) Pablo Carreno Busta def. (12) Andrey Kuznetsov||6-4, 6-3|
Millman battled back from being down a break in the first set on two occasions, taking the final three games to win 7-5.
“I’m never one to give up,” Millman said. “I’ll only stop trying when the match is over. It was difficult, but I was determined to not give up and hang in there, and finally I got momentum. And momentum’s a really big thing in tennis.”
Gasquet struggled to regain his composure after losing the first set, with Millman taking advantage of an early break to pull away. The Frenchman was making his return to the sport for the first time since Wimbledon, where he suffered a back injury that put him on the shelf for more than a month.
|(2) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (9) Viktor Troicki||3 p.m. ET|
|(16) Pablo Carreno Busta vs. John Millman||7 p.m. ET|
“It was very tough for me,” Gasquet said. “As I’ve said, I haven’t played for five weeks and of course physically I’m not at my best yet, so it was tough for me. He deserved to win. He played well. He played well from the baseline, he attacked when he had to do, and it made the difference.”
Second-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut will be a distinct favorite heading into the semifinals after taking care of Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. Bautista recorded five aces and won 26 of his 30 first-serve points. He did not face a single break point and converted on three of his six return breaks.
Sixteenth-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta made it a pair of Spaniards in the semis by taking out Russian Andrey Kuznetsov, 6-4, 6-3. Carreno recorded nine aces and saved on all seven break points he faced. The 25-year-old has never won a singles tournament on the ATP Tour, but he has made two finals in 2016. He'll look to reach his third when he faces Millman in the semifinals Friday.
Viktor Troicki put the damper on a potential three-Spaniard semifinal round, knocking out Fernando Verdasco in a three-set thriller, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. Verdasco carried a 4-3 lead in the deciding third set, but Troicki came back to win the final three games and advance, setting up a match against Bautista on Friday.
All four men remaining will look to carry their momentum into the U.S. Open, which gets underway in New York on Aug. 29. None of the remaining players has a major championship to his name.
But if the upset-filled trip to North Carolina is any indication, we might be in store for an interesting couple of weeks.