NEW YORK (AFP) - French eighth seed Richard Gasquet reached his first United States Open semi-final on Wednesday with a rollercoaster 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-4 win over David Ferrer, the Spanish fourth seed.
Gasquet, whose only previous appearance in the last four at a major was at Wimbledon in 2007, is the first Frenchman to get to the semi-finals in New York since Cedric Pioline in 1999.
It was only his second win in 10 meetings with Ferrer, a series which had also seen him claim just two sets out of 20.
Next up could be a clash with world number two Rafael Nadal, against whom he has lost all 10 meetings as a professional, although he did beat the great Spaniard in their junior days.
Nadal tackles fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo later on Wednesday in his quarter-final.
"I beat him when I was 13 in a junior tournament. Rafa is a good friend of mine so if I play him it will be great," said Gasquet, who is 2-2 against Robredo.
Gasquet had played the longest match of the tournament to see off Milos Raonic in the fourth round but he showed no ill effects from that four-hour-40-minute slugfest as he raced through the first two sets against Ferrer.
His majestic one-handed backhand was working overtime as Ferrer, a semi-finalist in 2007 and 2010, struggled.
But the 31-year-old Spaniard summoned up his trademark pugnacious instincts to claw his way back.
Ferrer, who has made at least the quarter-finals in his past eight majors, levelled the quarter-final, although Gasquet had his chances in a 13-minute sixth game where he carved out three break points.
But gallant Gasquet grabbed the crucial break in the sixth game of the decider when Ferrer double-faulted and took the match courtesy of a swinging forehand winner.
In a tight contest, Gasquet finished with 52 winners to Ferrer's 40 with the 27-year-old Frenchman collecting just five points more.
"I played a great match at the start despite the wind in the stadium. But David is a great fighter and I was a little tired after a big match with Raonic," said Gasquet.
"I got the break in the final set and it's an amazing feeling to be in the semi-finals. I have played a lot of five sets in my career but I still needed to play big to get the victory." Nadal takes a 6-0 career lead over Robredo into his quarter-final, which will close Wednesday's night session.
The world number two, a winner of 12 majors including the New York title in 2010, has a 19-0 hardcourt record this year and boasts a 57-3 match record since his return to the tour in February after a seven-month injury layoff.
The 27-year-old French Open champion has held all of his 56 service games in four rounds so far and has been broken just eight times in 14 hardcourt matches this summer in North America.
Robredo, who stunned five-time champion Roger Federer in the fourth round, has made the last eight for the first time in 12 visits.
The 31-year-old former world number five also made the last eight at the French Open for the fifth time this year.
The two remaining quarter-finals will be played on Thursday when top seed Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion who has not dropped a set so far, takes on Russian 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny, a two-time semi-finalist.
Defending champion Andy Murray, the third seed, meets Stanislas Wawrkinka, the ninth-seeded Swiss.