The Return of Richard
Date: 10 février 2006 à 22:02:59 CET
Sujet: Tournaments (English)

After over three and a half hours of gruelling yet stunning tennis, Richard Gasquet gained France a 2-0 lead and inched his country closer to victory by overcoming an almost flawless Tommy Haas, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-3.

Before the tie started French Captain, Guy Forget, believed that Germany were the firm favourites in this world group first round clash. However the gutsy French team, playing away from home, turned the tie on its head as they won both the opening days singles' rubbers.

Grosjean beat a very rattled Nicolas Kiefer in three straight sets, 7-5, 7-6, 6-0. It was then the turn of the two number one players in a re-match of their Australian Open clash.

However Germany stormed to a 6-1 first set win as Richard struggled to find his real form after a lengthy injury lay-off. Haas picked up where he left off in Australia and was really in the zone as he took a 4-0 lead and at one point it looked as though he would bagel the Frenchman. But as the set drew to a close Gasquet began to find some shots and managed to get a game before Haas won it 6-1.

As the second set got underway, the magnificent form of Haas dipped slightly. Gasquet hit a fine run and capitalised on a rare, slack service game from the German and deservedly led 2-1 with a break. He showed a tough mentality and maturity, much beyond his 19 years; dug his heels in and began to play beautiful flowing ground strokes and precise volleys.

The set then stayed with serve until 5-4 although at 5-3 Gasquet missed a break point and his opponent allowed him no second chances, playing stunning tennis to win the game. The young Frenchman then served his way through a shaky final game to clinch the second set 6-4 and level the match.

The third set stayed competitvely on serve until 3-3 when Richard clinched an all important break through. It was enough to see him through, and despite some very raucous crowd behaviour, he kept his nerve and took the set 6-4 giving France a two sets to one lead.

Breaks were exchanged at the start of the fourth set as Richard struggled to capitalise on his momentum from the third set. Richard missed two opportunites to break again at 2-2 and he was made to rue this as Haas broke him at 4-3 to serve for the set at 5-3.

Richard played a wonderful game to break back as Haas succombed to the pressure and the set was back on serve. It stayed this way and went to a nerve jangling tie break for both countries' fans to endure. It was the Germans who came out happier though as Haas raced through and blitzed the tie break 7-1 to send the match into a deciding set.

It was in this set that the young Frenchman really showed his mettle. He overcame the disappointment of missing out on the fourth set tie break and also a disappointing German crowd who let themselves down by intimidating Gasquet and the inexperienced umpire.

He immediately raced into a 3-0 lead to squash Haas' comeback and more fantastic play saw him break the German again at 4-1 to serve for the match with a double break behind him. Haas wasn't quite done and broke Richard back when he first served for the match. But the gutsy Frenchman made no mistake second time around and won the match on his fourth match point to send the small French crowd at the uppermost corner of the Gerry Weber stadium into raptures.

This lead now puts the French underdogs in a great position to clinch the tie as they only need one more rubber. Tomorrow is the all important doubles clash between Haas/Waske (GER) and Clement/Llodra (FRA). Allez France!

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