Confident Gasquet takes command to dispose of Dent

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The Independent Online

Richard Gasquet earnedthe chance to target his first tour title on his 19th birthday after storming through to the final of the 10tele.com Open in Nottingham yesterday.

Richard Gasquet earnedthe chance to target his first tour title on his 19th birthday after storming through to the final of the 10tele.com Open in Nottingham yesterday.

The stylish French prodigy eased past the big-serving American Taylor Dent 6-4, 6-2 to book a meeting against Max Mirnyi in today's final. But Gasquet said that whatever the result, he would be postponing his birthday celebrations as he attempts to make an impact at Wimbledon next week.

Gasquet, who plays German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round at the All England Club, said: "My party must wait until I get back to Paris because I believe I can have a great Wimbledon too. I have played a lot of matches on grass and it was very good to beat a player as good as Dent on this surface."

The former junior world No 1 radiates the confidence you would expect of a player who is one of only three to beat Roger Federer this year. But the grass court skills which also got him to the quarter-finals at Queen's last week have surprised many, including Dent and Paradorn Srichaphan, the reigning champion whom he beat in the quarter-finals.

Gasquet's returning put him in command immediately as he broke Dent in the first game of the match and served out confidently to take the first set.

Dent endured a nightmare start to the second set as he was broken twice in succession then warned for an audible obscenity as the match slowly slipped from his grasp.

Gasquet had to save only one break point against his serve in the whole match as he served out with aplomb to belie his relative inexperience on the surface.

Gasquet will now face another big-serving test in the final against the 6ft 5in Belarussian, who seized one crucial break in each set to see off Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-4, 7-5. Mirnyi - nicknamed "The Beast" - is certainly no grass court novice having reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2003 and also the doubles final in the same year.

l In 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, the nine-times Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova lost in the women's doubles semi-finals at the Ordina Open. The 48-year-old American and her partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld, lost to Dina Safina and Anabel Medina Garrigues, 6-4, 6-3.

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