Tennis-Gasquet braced for vengeful Federer
Date: 14 mai 2005 à 18:01:32 CEST
Sujet: Press (English)

Tennis-Gasquet braced for vengeful Federer
By Bill Barclay, Reuters

HAMBURG, Germany, May 14 (Reuters) - Richard Gasquet has a rare feather in his cap -- a winning head-to-head record with world number one Roger Federer..

The French teenager's shock victory in their only previous meeting at the Monte Carlo Masters in April inflicted only Federer's second loss in 58 matches since last year's U.S. Open.

On Sunday the Swiss will be favourite to exact revenge on the 18-year-old in the final of the Hamburg Masters in what will be the biggest match of Gasquet's life.

"It's incredible for me to be in a final against Federer," the hard-hitting youngster gulped after his 6-1 6-1 semi-final thrashing of Belgian Christophe Rochus on Saturday.

"It's a dream. He's the favourite but I'll play a great match hopefully tomorrow. I'll do my best and we will see what happens."

Gasquet was born in Beziers, a southern French town better known for its rugby team than its tennis players, and the tall teenager would not look out of place in the second row with his flat nose, straight back and bullish neck.

The manner of his victories in Hamburg this week suggest Federer will have a real fight on his hands on Sunday. Gasquet has dropped only one set and has lost only eight games in his last three matches at the Rothenbaum.

He has never won an ATP Tour title, although he reached the final in Metz last year. He is the first Frenchman to reach the Hamburg final since Henri Leconte in 1988.

One of Federer's advantages will be the fact that Sunday's match will be the best of five sets, unlike the rest of the tournament or their quarter-final in Monte Carlo, which Gasquet won 6-7 6-2 7-6.


Ranked 56 in the world, Gasquet has only played one five-set match before. That was at Wimbledon on grass, a much less draining surface than clay.

The Rothenbaum centre court is particularly slow but the teenager thinks that will help him.

"If it's slow tomorrow it will be good for me as I don't think Federer likes a slow court," he said.

"He has all the experience of playing in finals so it won't be easy.

"It's fabulous for me but I can't stop here, I have a lot of work to do. I'm playing very well and even if I lose in three sets, I know I am making good progress."

Federer believes that whatever Sunday's outcome, Gasquet will be a perennial threat at Roland Garros.

"He's definitely a danger, but as for winning it, only he can answer that," Federer said.

"It's a long tournament. But I think the French Open will be his best shot. It's his best surface and he's got the fans behind him. It will be like that for his whole career."

05/14/05 15:27 ET

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