With the start of the clay court season, talk always focuses on the many Spanish players in the top 30 of the ATP tour, each of which has a good chance of doing well in the coming months. Less noticed, but by no means should they be overlooked, are the growing number of French players in the top ranks as well. During today’s early round action at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, a possible shift in the French guard may have been cemented as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, earned a tough, yet impressive win while Richard Gasquet, who once laid claim to being the highest ranked Frenchmen, crashed out in under an hour to Tomas Berdych. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Richard Gasquet
The look on Richard Gasquet’s face in the photo describes how I look this morning right now after watching the almost five hour match last night/day between Richard Gasquet and Mikhail Youzhny. Gasquet won the first two sets but someone could not find a way to demolish the “tank” that is “Mischa” and lost 7-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-7, 4-6.
To get into why and how Gasquet lost is not the point. The tennis itself had flashes of brilliance but was mostly just two boys on a court grinding it out. Plus the fact that it was on Margaret Smith Court, a tiny venue packed with rowdy French and Russian fans that added to the whole carnival atmosphere. When he had to serve amid outbursts for Youzhny, Gasquet would press his fingers to his lips as if to say. “Silence S’il vous plait. I am trying not to lose here.” The match felt like it was being played on Court 16 in Flushing Meadows rather than a Melbourne suburb. And no Hawkeye so the call was just that, the call.
And then the cramping started.
I know I am few days behind on this one, but I was glad to hear that Richard Gasquet was given the green light to resume a normal playing schedule in 2010 after the Internatonal Tennis Federation (ITF) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) failed in their appeal to have Gasquet’s recent ban extended to two years, this after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) revealed their final decision on December 17th.
The CAS in their statement upheld Gasquet’s defense that he ended up with traces of cocaine in his system after kissing the now infamous woman only known as “Pamela” earlier this spring in a Miami nightclub. Gasquet, after failing a drug test, missed most of the spring and summer events, before having his ban lifted in time for the U.S. Open in September.
For her part, “Pamela” said in a statement she was “content” with the verdict even though she did file a lawsuit against Gasquet this summer over his accounting of what actually happened.
No matter if you do or don’t believe Gasquet, it will be good to see him back on the court swinging away with that beautiful one-handed backhand. The real question is, can Gasquet put this all behind him and finally live up to his potential and win a big event. Let me know what you think?
Despite his travails earlier this spring with the “cocaine kiss” incident, Gasquet appears to have put that all behind him and is playing with inspired confidence and his backhand, probably the best in the game, is once again a thing of beauty to watch.
Gasquet has a good shot at finishing 2009 on an upswing and if he continues his stellar play, I like his chances of not only getting back into the top 20, but maybe even top 10 again next year. Gasquet can display Federer-like artistry on court but seemed to never have real belief especially on the big stages. Perhaps his time off has actually done him some good and, at age 23, he still has plenty of time to achieve great things.
As for John Isner, this was another early round match that he should have won. He was up a set and almost a break in the second and despite falling behind early in the second set tiebreak, had match points on Gasquet’s serve but failed to convert. Once the third set got underway, the “moping” began again and it was all downhill. Isner has got to start making moves in these bigger 500 and 1000 events and 2010 will be the real test for him to make that happen.
(Note: Of course after I posted this, Gasquet lost in the next round to wildcard Marco Chiudinelli 6-1, 6-3. So what do I know?)
A lot of players on Day 3 will be up against their own countryman/woman which may add an extra drop of drama. Or not. Gael Monfils faces Jeremy Chardy which could be close depending on Monfils’s health. Vera Zvonareva will be up against fellow Russian and former top ten player Anna Chakvetadze. Juan Martin Del Potro goes against fellow Argentine Juan Monaco and the list goes on.
American Bethanie Mattek-Sands will get to test out Venus Williams’s knee in the second round. Again with Venus, early rounds in Slams other than Wimbledon have been her undoing lately.
Rafael Nadal will face his friend Richard Gasquet in the first round later this afternoon. I’m surprised this wasn’t the night match along with Clijsters vs. Bartoli (see below). The Serena/Federer card should be a big yawn. Anyway, I’m sure Nadal/Gasquet will have it’s moments but I would be surprised if Nadal doesn’t pull this off in three.
Marat Safin opens his farewell tour against Jurgen Melzer. I actually like Safin in this unless he self-destructs like his little sister almost did yesterday.
Kim Clijsters takes on Marion Bartoli and I like Clijsters in this. Again if she gets past Bartoli then you have to like her against Venus in the fourth round.
And finally Robby Ginepri, who won in Indianapolis, opens up against Andrei Pavel, a 35 year old journeyman from Romania ranked 728.