The December 2010 edition of French Tennis Magazine introduces all French DC-players by testimonies given by people close to them. This is what Manuel Sauveplane, 33, now a director of a business in Béziers, has to say about Richard.
Richard, I actually saw him being born because I learned how to play tennis from his father Francis. Francis was more than a tennis coach for me, as I just had lost my own father and spent my days at the tennis club. As soon as Richard could walk he hit balls against the wall. Then he came to play with us, who were ten years older, and as he was younger we told him all kind of stories [let him believe a little bit of everything].
We met again when he came to Paris as a teenager when I did my studies. We went out, discovered restaurants. We talk about everything except tennis. I think we are for each other the brother none of us ever had.
We are very similar. As all the only sons, we are rather possessive with our environment. We love being the centre of attention, Richard is a complete guy, he knows what he wants and what not, though this sometimes can be double-edged.
Richard is very compelling, very generous. At the birth of my son Paul, he was adorable, he gave him a mini-prototype of his raquet and a superbe pair of tennis shoes. Richard surprised me, I did not expect him to be able to deal with an infant, but he took him quickly in his arms and played with him.
He is ultra-sensitive. We discussed quite a lot about the “affair”, in particular when it was over. He came out of it really traumatised. He had no confidence in anything, he had become mistrustful about girls, the world of tennis and the journalists obviously. But it needs more to “let him down”. He has never doubted that he would be back in tennis, because he knows his qualities. I do not agree if I hear” he has no mentality” because one has to be strong to come back after what had happened to him. This is an experience which made him mature in his relations with others. Already by his job, he has grown up early. He lives in an environment which is quite political and competitive, this made him mature.
Richard is interested in many things, he reads regularly. We have many conversations about politics, social affairs. Since some time he is passionate about wine. He does a lot of research about this subject and when he comes to Béziers, we visit the wine cellars to exchange.
He is a born competitor. Whether he plays tennis, with a joy-stick or golf, he doesn’t like losing. When he started golf, he was a bit “anxious”, he jumped quickly the level of practising to be able to attack the whole course. Even if it was hard at the beginning, he learned quickly.
When he comes to Béziers, he enjoys watching me playing tennis with his father. As when he was small, he installs himself in a seat, he gives advice and makes fun of us – in particular. For him, returning to his region is a break in his professional life of a high level. He is at ease, different to what one might think from the outside. When he comes, he puts himself in the shadow in a way, it is like a breath of fresh air.
Translated by Puschkin.