Been there, done that

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

During his younger days, Richard Gasquet had a penchant for throwing his racquet in fits of frustration.

He says he doesn't do that anymore.

And the promising Frenchman has no intentions of throwing in the towel, either, when he steps on to the court against overwhelming favourite Roger Federer this afternoon in the final of the $2.45-million US Rogers Cup at the Rexall Centre.

Gasquet, 20, can take consolation in the fact he is one of the few tennis players on the planet to have defeated the world No. 1 in the past two years.

Sixteen months ago, Gasquet, facing Federer for the first time, pulled off the shocking 6-7 (1), 6-2, 7-6 (10) victory on the bronze clay in Monte Carlo.

The startling win sent ripples of shock through the tennis world, at least temporarily.

But Federer enjoyed the last laugh -- as he so often does -- winning the next four encounters against Gasquet, including a straight-sets victory at Wimbledon last month.

"I think Roger knows me now,"said Gasquet, who earned a berth in the championship match by efficiently downing Scotland's Andy Murray 6-2, 7-5 yesterday.

"In Monte Carlo, he didn't know me (and) maybe it was good for me.

"This not the same. I've lost three times this year against him, but it was on hard court and grass court. It's not easy. I prefer to play him on clay court, of course."

Gasquet described the feeling of meeting Federer on the hardcourt of the the Rogers Cup final as "incredible."

"He has a great serve and a great forehand. It's the best in the world. He never misses."

Well, almost never.

Truth be told, Federer had some hiccups in his 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 semi-final victory over spirited Chilean Fernando Gonzalez last night. Yet, as was the case in his two previous three-set matches in this tournament, he saved his best for last.

By posting his 53rd consecutive victory on North America soil, Federer now will play in his 17th straight final, one off the record set by Ivan Lendl in 1981 and '82.

Now all that stands in the way of his second Rogers Cup crown in three years is Gasquet.

"I remember (Monte Carlo)," Federer said. "He was kind of an unknown for me. He was on fire.

"He actually let me back in the match before he (won). He deserved it."

Federer knows it will not be an easy task today when he walks out in front of a capacity crowd to face Gasquet for the sixth time in his career.

"I think anything average (for me) in the final won't be enough," the 2004 Rogers Cup champion said.

Win or lose, Gasquet, who last year was called "spoiled" and "a little weird" by fellow competitor Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia, hopes his strong showing will fuel his momentum for the upcoming U.S. Open.

That's the same U.S. Open tournament he was disqualified from two years ago when he chucked a racquet that hit a linesman in the eye, drawing blood in the process.

"I don't want to speak about that. I wasn't happy after that," he said yesterday before breaking into a wide grin.

That smile will swell tenfold should he pull off another upset today.

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FEDERER-GASQUET ... TALE OF THE TAPE

ROGER RICHARD

FEDERER GASQUET

25 Age 20

Switzerland Home country France

1 ATP Ranking 51

39 Career wins 3

$24.73 million Career Earnings $1.38 million

ROAD TO THE FINAL -- Federer defeated: Paul-Henri Mathieu (France)6-3, 6-4, Sebastien Grosjean (France) 6-3, 6-3, Dmitry Tursunov (Russia) 6-3, 5-7, 6-0, Xavier Malisse (Belgium) 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 6-3, Fernando Gonzalez (Chile) 6-1, 5-7, 6-3; Gasquet defeated: Fabrice Santoro (France) 6-4, 6-3, James Blake (US) 6-4, 6-3, Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, Tomas Berdych (Cze) 6-4, 6-1, Andy Murray (Scotland) 6-2, 7-5.

HEAD TO HEAD -- Federer has won four-of-five meetings, including 2006 Wimbledon (grass) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2; 2006 Halle, Germany, (grass) 7-6 (7), 6-7 (7), 6-4; 2006 Indian Wells (hardcourt) 6-3, 6-4; 2006 Hamburg (clay) 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Gasquet's only win was 2005 Monte Carlo (clay) 6-7 (1), 6-2, 7-6 (10).


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