When Richard Gasquet appeared on the circuit ATP as a timid Frenchman who hoarded infinite quality in his racket, he probably didn’t think his career could stretch out for 20 seasons (or more). 36 years of youth: That’s what the man from Béziers will think every time he goes out on court to face players who, by age, would be closer to being his sons than his peers. And the Frenchman does not drop his rings to go down to the circuit Challenger to improve his ranking: he did it last year in several events and he does it this week in Phoenixwhere he debuted with victory and showed that his love for tennis is above practically everything.
Because it is not easy to maintain passion and intensity in training when you know that your best days on a physical level are over. After two decades of travel, pressure and a continuous struggle to surpass the new generations, it would be completely understandable that Richard wanted to hang up the racket as soon as possible. It is not your case: As he declared to the ATP, his work continues to be his greatest love, something that has germinated praise from his fellow circuit members. “Still I really enjoy it. I love playing, being on the court. I like to travel and compete in events. It is clear that it is not always easy, sometimes you are very tired and playing consecutively is complicated, but I like to play, train, win games and compete on the big stages.”confesses the Frenchman, who makes it very clear that going so far was not something that, much less, entered his plans.
“I never thought that I could play for so long. It’s a big surprise for me, but my focus is to go year by year, and I’m still here. I train a lot and I keep thinking about tennis every day. I’m focused every day to fight, I love what I do. My best days are over, but I still enjoy it. I have improved compared to last year, i’m playing better and feeling better physically. I hope it’s like that for the rest of the season and I’m lucky not to get injured. I’ve had a great start to the year, we’ll see what happens.”. Richard is not mistaken: in January he once again won a title in Aucklanddefeating in the final a top-15 as Cameron Norrie and giving proof of his great physical condition.
The victory in the New Zealand country caught Richard off guard, who makes it clear that “I didn’t expect to win another tournament at 36 years old”but that affects his self-confidence: he does not feel so far from the best rackets of today. “I know I’m still capable of beating top-10 players. I did it last year, and this year I’ve already beaten top-20 players. I know it’s not easy, but I’m lucky because I can still compete in this sport. “says the Frenchman, who does not miss the opportunity in each meeting with the press to emphasize that his dream from a very young age was “to be a tennis player” and who is grateful to “playing at Roland Garros, meeting great people and traveling to tournaments all my life. My dream came true.”
GENEROUS WITH HIS COMPANIONS
As we mentioned earlier, his teammates in the locker room greatly admire Richard’s consistency and dedication. Andy Murray he was full of praise for the Frenchman this week, and Gasquet took the opportunity to pick up the glove and reflect his gratitude with the Scotsman’s words. “It’s clear that Andy’s statements made me very happy. I’ve known him for a long time and the respect is mutual. I didn’t win three Grand Slams like he did, so it’s not the same, but I’m very happy and lucky to continue to be part of the circuit”. And best of all: he doesn’t feel like stepping on the brakes. Long live tennis lovers.