Gasquet relying on nostalgia
Richard Gasquet must look back to when he was the future of tennis for proof that he can beat Rafael Nadal.
The pair meet in the US Open semi-finals tomorrow, and if things go the same way as they have in their other 10 professional matches then there will only be one winner.
But Nadal did not always have the advantage over the Frenchman, who is just two weeks younger.
The pair met for the first time 14 years ago at Les Petits As in Tarbes, France - one of the biggest tournaments in the world for under-14s.
A 13-year-old Gasquet won in three sets, and that is the one and only time time he has beaten his now fellow 27-year-old.
Gasquet said: "I have seen on YouTube that video. I can see I'm winning against him, so I don't believe it sometimes.
"I didn't know him when I played him. He was already fighting a lot, already running so much, and I remember I won 6-4 in the third set. I told my father afterwards, 'He's a big fighter'.
"It's good to win under 14, but it's better to win on the pro tour, and I didn't. But life is long. We are only 27 years old. So why not?"
Gasquet, Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic were all junior rivals but it was the Frenchman who was the most hyped.
It would have been hard to believe then that at the peak of their careers the other trio would have won 20 grand slam titles between them, while Gasquet had not done as much as reach a final.
It is six years since he made his only previous semi-final, at Wimbledon, but the Frenchman has already secured two of the most important victories of his career in New York.
First he saved a match point to beat Milos Raonic in the fourth round and then recovered from losing a two-set lead to defeat David Ferrer on Wednesday.
The man famed for a wondrous backhand and a frail nerve had outfought one of tennis' great battlers, but turning the tables on Nadal will require a whole other level of effort.
Not least because the left-handed Nadal's high-kicking forehand is a nightmare for players with a single-handed backhand.
Nadal has won all 20 of his matches on hard courts this year, and played possible the best of them in a quarter-final rout of Tommy Robredo.
He is happy to see his former junior rival at this stage, saying: "He's a nice guy and one of the players on the tour that I feel closest to because we are the same age.
"We grew up in similar ways and we played when we were kids. Today we have the chance to be in the semi-finals of the US Open. It's a great thing for both of us, so I'm very happy."
The other semi-final will see world number one Djokovic take on Murray's conqueror Stanislas Wawrinka.
Wawrinka has had the best season of his career, capped by a run to the last four at a slam for the first time.
The Swiss showed he had reached a new level at the Australian Open in January when he pushed Djokovic to 12-10 in the fifth set in one of the matches of the year.
Wawrinka said of the clash: "It's one of the keys of my season, for sure. That was a really tough moment, but at the end I was really positive with that match because all Australian Open my level was better than ever.
"That's the most thing important for me. When I feel I'm playing good tennis, then I know the results will come."
If Wawrinka plays the way he did in routing an admittedly out-of-sorts Murray then Djokovic will need to be at his best.
The world number one dropped his first set of the tournament against Mikhail Youzhny but bounced back to reach a 14th straight grand slam semi-final.
He said of the Australian Open meeting: "It's definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played in my life on this surface.
"In the past we all knew that he has the quality to play that well, but not on a consistent basis.
"He's a very complete player. He can play equally well on any surface. He had one of the best seasons in his life.
"He won in straight sets against the defending champion on Arthur Ashe. That was quite impressive. I'm sure he's very confident and he has nothing to lose now. He's going to go for the win."