There is a back-handed complement to the late rounds of the U.S. Open men's action, and already evidence that a rare old tennis shot can augment a bit of mischief.

Richard Gasquet, theoretically the wrong Frenchman this deep in the tournament, yesterday used a surgical one-handed backhand on three-fifths of his groundstroke winners for a quarterfinal upset of No. 4 seed David Ferrer, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3.

That was before No. 2 Rafael Nadal easily dealt with a not-so-reliable one-handed backhand -- or anything else -- from fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who had ousted five-time champion Roger Federer. Nadal won, 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.

And Wednesday, defending champion Andy Murray will face another sound practitioner of the one-handed stroke, 10th-ranked Stanislas Wawrinka -- theoretically the wrong Swiss quarterfinalist now that Federer is gone -- before top seed Novak Djokovic's match against one-hand backhander Mikhail Youzhny, the Russian ranked No. 24.

That makes four one-hand backhanders in the four quarterfinals, an unlikely glimpse of the sport's old-time religion before the championship trio of Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors brought the two-fisted style into vogue four decades ago.

Federer, of course, has employed the one-hander to great effect, but current elite players overwhelmingly use two hands. And, whether these four interlopers have an impact beyond the Open is debatable.

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But Gasquet, whose No. 9 ranking makes him France's No. 2 player behind No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (out of the Open with a knee injury), certainly tortured the scrambling Ferrer with the shot.

"Richard played a very good game with his backhand," Ferrer said, "and serving very good in important moments."

Gasquet offered the same assessment. Against the relentlessly counterpunching Ferrer, and following Gasquet's five-set, tiebreak victory over Canada's Milos Raonic in the previous round, "I knew I had to be aggressive," Gasquet said.

"Was a little bit tired. We [he and Raonic] play four hours, 30 minutes, but I knew I could play another big match. I was feeling not so tired this morning. My backhand was working very good. When I'm serving great and I have this backhand, I think I can play well."

The victory moved Gasquet, 27, into only his second Grand Slam semifinal (after Wimbledon 2007) in 37 appearances.


On the verge of a semifinal match against Nadal, Gasquet confirmed that there is a YouTube video of him, at 13, defeating Nadal in southern France. "You can see I'm winning against him," Gasquet said, "so I don't believe it sometimes.

"You know, it's good to win under-14, but is better to win on the pro [tour], and I didn't." He is 0-10 vs. Nadal as a pro.

Then again, Gasquet was 1-8 vs. Ferrer before Wednesday.

Now there is some sentiment that Wawrinka could significantly bedevil Murray with his backhand. Wawrinka is enjoying a strong year, having pushed Djokovic to five sets at the Australian Open, battered Murray in Monte Carlo and whipped Ferrer for a title in Portugal.

"I think I play my best tennis ever now," Wawrinka said. "This year is confidence, for sure. I'm feeling really good on the court."

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Might he join Gasquet in the semifinals, and on the receiving end of backhand compliments?