Eastbourne semi-finalist Gasquet says game on the mend
France's Richard Gasquet returns a shot against Slovakia’s Martin Klizan during his Men's Singles quarter-final match on the sixth day of the Aegon International tennis tournament in Eastbourne, southern England, on June 19, 2014 - by Glyn Kirk
The world number 14 will be playing in a final four outside of his native France for the first time in 2014 as he prepares for next week's Wimbledon championship after missing nearly two months and the entire clay season prior to Roland Garros with a back injury.
In the women's draw at Devonshire Park, Briton Heather Watson moved into the semi-finals as second seed and 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova withdrew before their match with a thigh strain.
"I feel my right leg hamstring, I started to feel it yesterday morning,"said the Czech second seed. "I played quite a solid match yesterday, but today was much worse. So I hope that I'm gonna be ready for Wimbledon."
Watson faces Madison Keys, a winner over fellow-American Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-1 as the first dark clouds of the week hovered over the south coast.
German fifth seed Angelique Kerber, a 2012 Wimbledon semi-finalist, advanced past Ekaterina Makarova in their quarter-final 6-2, 6-1.
"Nice and quick, but it was not so easy like the score said," the German commented. "I knew it would not be easy because we've had a lot of close matches in the past.
"I was just focusing on me, trying to be aggressive and take my chances. I think I did a good job today."
Kerber will take on eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki, who defeated Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 6-2 to reach her third semi-final of the season after two-and-three-quarter hours on court.
"I really had to be focused out there. It felt good, I'm pleased," said Wozniacki, the 2009 champion.
Gasquet advanced with seven aces and two breaks of serve in 68 minutes, saving both of the break points he faced, and declared he was optimistic about his progress.
"I'm feeling better and better, I've had no pain since Roland Garros. But after stopping for two months, it's always difficult to come back.
"You are questioning yourself every day on your body. I'm playing, practising every day more and more. I am practicing on my physical condition. I ran a lot last week. So I'm starting to be better.
"I'm not 100 percent on my game, but I think I'm playing better and better. I've won two good matches here, I served well. I could play with power. It's a good start of the week for me."
Gasquet next meets Uzbek Denis Istomin, who beat Eduardo Roger-Vasselin of France, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.
He is competing in only his third tournament since April and opened on grass a week ago with a loss in Halle.
The 28-year-old won this title in 2005 and 2006 when the event was held in Nottingham.
American Sam Querrey beat France's Julien Benneteau 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.