2007 Objectives
Date: 10 novembre 2006 à 13:03:49 CET
Sujet: Richard (English)

The real Parisian baptism of Richard Gasquet, even more than his meeting with Rafael Nadal last year at Roland Garros, should have taken place against Marat Safin during the last Masters of Bercy. In great form, after just having won in Lyon his third tournament of the year. Gasquet also had just achieved his first victory in Bercy against the Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. But who was there to see him, that night from Wednesday to Thursday, between midnight and one o ‘clock in the morning!? Pulling his thigh in this match, he withdrew Thursday afternoon.

It will therefore be necessary to wait until next year to have a chance to see Gasquet, the “great” Gasquet, we mean. Before crossing the great lines which his talent gives us the right to expect, it is appropriate to come back to his year of 2006, (which was only a half painted theatre stage ?????) which was mixed.

Still coached by Eric Deblicker and guided in his physical preparations by Paul Quetin, Gasquet has won three tournaments on three different surfaces: grass (Nottingham), clay (Gstaad) and indoors (Lyon). To this demonstration of omnipotence he added a Masters final in Toronto (outdoor hardcourt) where only Federer deprived him of victory.

In the major events, Richard was not too bad either, losing first round to Tommy Haas in Australia, second round to David Nalbandian at Roland Garros, first round against Roger Federer in Wimbledon and in the round of last 16 against Hewitt at the US Open. In Davis Cup, there were a magnificent success against Haas on indoor hardcourt and two defeats, but both at the end of hard-fought five setters against Safin and Tursunov in Pau on indoor hardcourt.

Overall, Gasquet showed a performance which by and large allowed him to keep his top position in the national ranking and within the Top 20 of the world, still quite far away of his number 12 ranking which he had achieved in September 2005, but which was without doubt a little bit flattery, given the level of his game at the time.

Finally, leaving aside the example of another phenomenon (the one of Nadal who for the tome being is even more of it), Richard Gasquet is with his 20 years and four tournament victories not far away from what was reasonably to be expected from him. To prove this, it is sufficient to compare his achievements at the same age (20 years and 6 months) with the ultimate reference of today – Roger Federer.

Federer beat the Number 1 (Hewitt, 2002 Miami) for the first time at the age of 20 years 6 months. Gasquet has done better; 2005 in Monte Carlo at the age of 18 years 7 months (10 I would say), against…. Federer.

Federer established himself among the Top Ten in May 2002 at the age of 20 years 10 months. Richard was, as we have seen, number 12 at 19. And he has still time. He will be 20 years 10 months next April. At 20 years 6 months Federer was … number 13.

Federer won his first grand slam title in Wimbledon 2003 at the age of 21 years 11 months. The best performance of Gasquet in these events is currently a round of 16
(Wimbledon 2004, US Open 2004 and 2005 [2005 and 2006 I think]). At the age of Gasquet, the best grand slam performance by Federer were two QFs, Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2001.

Federer won his first Masters in Hamburg 2002 at the age of 20 years 10 months. Gasquet reached two finals, Hamburg 2005 at the age of 18 years 11 months and Toronto this year at the age of 20, twice beaten by Federer. At the age of Richard, Federer had not done better than two QFs, Miami and Monte Carlo 2001.

Therefore, what can we expect in 2007 from Richard Gasquet? What can he himself expect before his 21 birthday in June 2006? Let us risk to propose a “marching order” which does not seem illusionary given his immense potential. The programme consists of three points:

1. Enter the Top ten before Roland Garros: The objective seems ambitious, but reasonable, taking into account that because of his elbow injury Richard had had a difficult start of the season. Only in one out of eleven tourneys, he won two consecutive matches before his victory in Nottingham in June. It is therefore within the first half of the year when he will have to gain points.

2. Reaching a SF in a grand slam tournament

3. A first Masters Win

A winter of work, avoiding injuries and some luck with the draws (in this area, the guy was not really “spoiled”) should greatly help him to achieve thee objectives. And then, let us discover that the objectives only known to Richard Gasquet himself may be even higher!

Translated from Tennis Magazine, December 2006 by Puschkin

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