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US Open: Richard Gasquet outlasts David Ferrer

Richard Gasquet of France beat David Ferrer of Spain to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal since Wimbledon in 2007.

julio cortez/Associated press

Richard Gasquet of France beat David Ferrer of Spain to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal since Wimbledon in 2007.

NEW YORK — A year after skipping the US Open because of a bad knee, 2010 champion Rafael Nadal powered his way back to the semifinals by overwhelming 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo, 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday night.

The second-seeded Nadal improved to 20-0 on hard courts in 2013, part of an overall record of 58-3 with nine titles, including his record eighth championship at the French Open in June.

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‘‘I think I played my best match at the US Open this year. Great to be able to play your best match in the quarterfinals,’’ Nadal said. ‘‘Playing a little better every day is a great feeling.’’

At the next Grand Slam tournament after Paris, though, Nadal flopped, exiting in the first round at Wimbledon.

That surprising defeat, against a guy ranked 135th, came on June 24. Feels like eons ago. Nadal hasn’t lost a match to anyone since.

On Saturday, Nadal will face No. 8 Richard Gasquet, who edged No. 4 David Ferrer, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals earlier in the day.

‘‘I'm sure that’s the way I have to play to keep having chances to be successful in every surface, but especially on this one,’’ said Nadal. ‘‘I was able to do it today. I hope to be able to do it in two days.’’

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Nadal was never challenged even the slightest bit by Robredo, who was coming off a fourth-round upset of 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.

The match lasted just 1 hour, 40 minutes, and it really was over after 22 minutes. That’s how long it took Nadal to dominate the first set, not only winning every game but also 24 of 29 points, including all seven that lasted 10 strokes or more.

‘‘I played great the first set,’’ Nadal said. ‘‘It’s my first set so far this year 100 percent.’’

Nadal did not come to New York in 2012, part of about a seven-month absence due mainly to a left knee problem.

No sign of that Wednesday.

‘‘He was up very quick,’’ said Robredo, who is 0-7 in Grand Slam quarterfinals, ‘‘and then there was nothing else to do. He was too good.’’

Gasquet reached his second Grand Slam semifinal, and first since 2007 when he lost to Federer.

‘‘It means a lot. I'm 27, so the last time I did it, I was 21 years old,’’ Gasquet said. ‘‘For sure, it’s a big victory for me.’’

He was playing in only the second major quarterfinal of his career, having been 1-15 in fourth-round matches until edging No. 10 Milos Raonic on Monday, also in five sets.

Ferrer faltered down the stretch after coming back to even the match by winning the third and fourth sets. Ferrer, the runner-up to Nadal at the French Open in July, played a loose game while down 3-2 in the fifth, including a double-fault on break point.

‘‘I played, I believe, very bad in that game,’’ said Ferrer, who had been 8-1 against Gasquet. ‘‘I lost, a little bit, my focus in that moment.’’

Gasquet is the first Frenchman to make the US Open semifinals since Cedric Pioline in 1999.

Ferrer entered Wednesday with an 8-1 head-to-head record against Gasquet. But Gasquet’s smooth, one-handed backhand was on target from start to finish during the nearly 3½-hour match, and he finished with 21 winners off that wing, while Ferrer had nine.

Gasquet served out the opening set at love, capping it with a point in which he hit two cross-court backhands that pushed Ferrer wide of the doubles alley, then smacked one down the line for a winner.

Gasquet was thought to be potentially one of the next great players on the professional circuit when he left the amateur ranks as a teenager in 2002, but Gasquet has struggled to live up to those lofty expectations.

In 2009, after testing positive for cocaine, he missed the French Open and Wimbledon while serving a suspension that was reduced to 2½ months on appeal.

An appeals panel accepted Gasquet’s explanation that the drug inadvertently entered his system when he kissed a woman in a Miami nightclub hours after withdrawing from that city’s tournament because of an injury.

Gasquet is now 2-2 against Robredo, but 0-10 against Nadal. There could be little doubt about which player Gasquet would have preferred to face.

‘‘Last time I beat him, I was 13,’’ Gasquet said, referring to a junior match against Nadal he’s seen video of on YouTube. ‘‘It was a long time ago.’’

The other two men’s quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, with No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 21 Mikhail Youzhny, and No. 3 Andy Murray against No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka.

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