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Le Coq Sportif

 The Chinese Springboard

Press (English)Puschkin a écrit : "He made a successful entry with the big ones. Finally with the very big ones, as it is already some time that Richard Gasquet, 21, has been around on the professional tour. But there, in Shanghai, it was still a different matter.

The icing on the cake – with only the best eight players of the world and all the fuss, with embroidered sheets and towels, an individual locker room, a car with his name, a life-sized statue, etc. An event, of which Richard Gasquet perfectly knew the significance – he, who has grown up in a culture of champions’ achievements since his childhood.

Of course, he has not won, in fact [he won] only one match which in itself is not bad. But the Frenchman has treated all the champions as an equal, without complex, but without not ignoring the fact that he was the last to qualify and that the most difficult remains still to be done to get closer to the top of the world of tennis.

Gasquet had the honour of playing the first match against Rafael Nadal. He won the first point with a cracking ace – and the first set. And then, and then: A slight weakening, even if he was up 40-0, and that was the break and the match turned. But he did not collapse, staying close to Nadal till the end, causing astonished exclamations from the Chinese crowd by his “genius” accelerations. In addition, there was one shot – a gorgeous backhand pass after a smash from the Spaniard, one of those fabulous shots about which he does not hide his joy either.

Novak Djokovic, number three in the world, even if not at his best still remains more intimidating than he would want to admit [???] A win at the Master’s Cup is not nothing, beyond the 100 000 dollars and the 100 ATP-points coming with it. Afterwards, it was the “tartar” Ferrer whom Richard had to confront. A missed match, due to a very poor service and the rest of the game deteriorating with it. “I am a bit ashamed to lose like that. I was taken at the throat”, commented Gasquet at a press conference, rather relaxed, where he gave proof of easiness and a sense of humour that made the Chinese press burst with laughter.

But spontaneously, the anger of losing with such a bad performance swept him away to the point of smashing two racquets “discreetly” in his locker room. “Even at my best level, I am not sure to beat him” he said about Ferrer. “He does everything which disturbs me, like Nalbandian. For me, this is the most difficult. A have a bigger feeling of powerlessness than against Nadal or Federer.”

There is not much left [????] that Richard is rightly overall pleased with his Masters. “I know where my weaknesses are and what I have to work on at 200% to get to a higher level. Today, I am between 6 and 12. To enter the Top 5 is different. I need more experience and a stronger body. But I have learnt a lot at this tournament. This is a big springboard for next year.”

When, as he does himself, one expects of every season more than of the previous one. Sometimes with a little too much impatience. Let us not forget that never so young a Frenchman has qualified for the Masters. And that Gasquet managed two performances which count in a career: to turn around a match which seemed lost against Roddick in the QFs of Wimbledon and to beat Murray at Bercy, in front of his home crowd, in a deciding match for the Master’s Cup.

In 2008, to do better than a grand slam SF is to play…. two, or to go to the final, if not further. Doing better in the Masters Series is to play a couple of finals or to win one. Doing better in general is - like he says himself - to enter the Top 5. Doing better is also to avoid chocks and counter-performances like the disaster in Roland Garros against Vliegen or the withdrawal at the US Open, certainly understandable, but maybe also avoidable.

Easy to write… In order to give him all he needs to get there, Eric Deblicker, the coach of the French number 1, wishes for a regular monitoring by a physical coach and a chiropractor and an improved specific work programme before the clay season. But the international calendar, with Davis Cup occasionally complicating the schedule, won’t make it easy. Therefore, it may happen to meet the US, holder of the title, before coming back to Europe for Monte Carlo. A strange detour…

Source: French Tennis Magazine, January 2008, translated by Puschkin"



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