“At 37, you want to relive moments like that”: Richard Gasquet keeps the fun going at Roland-Garros

We saw a bit of Richard Gasquet from his heyday again. Eyes wide with motivation, fist systematically raised in rage, and a final backhand along the line for a touch of sublime.

Certainly, it was only a first round at Roland-Garros and against a Borna Coric (71st in the world) far from his best level, but this victory was enough to thrill all of Suzanne Lenglen to the point of making the discreet Biterrois wavered a bit, with tears in his eyes under the ovation of the public.

“This court is fabulous”, enthused Richard Gasquet, going so far as to speak of the “most beautiful court in the world”. “You are very close to the public. The speaker carries you a lot. I had some great matches on it. At 37, you want to relive moments like that,” added the man who benefited from an invitation from the organizers.

Only his 3rd victory of the season

For his 21st and probably last Parisian Grand Slam, with 50 matches on this beloved clay court, “Richie” showed that he was not yet done with Porte d’Auteuil. He who is still running in search of these moments has been greatly served.

After 3h23 of great struggle, led by the score in the three sets (7-6, 7-6, 6-4), the 124th in the world sought the support of the public. The spans of the Lenglen responded perfectly. Under a brand new roof closed to avoid showers, the “Richard, Richard”, the “olé, olé, olé”, and the Marseillaise rang out loud and clear throughout the entire meeting.

On the pitch, it’s hard to believe that the Frenchman only had two small victories this season on the ATP circuit and is almost 38 years old on the clock. “Physically, I can hold on better than last year or two years ago. I was lighter on the court. (…) But on the other hand, he is still 10 years younger, that can count! »

On the other side of the net, at just 27 years old, the former world number 12, undermined by injuries but capable of the best or the worst in any tournament, often found himself without solutions, overwhelmed by the strikes of the tricolor, even on the forehand side.

“I’m glad he’s riding my backhand”

Without hurrying, Gasquet went for his first two sets in the tie-break, with experience, when he could finally have made the difference before. A difference that he made in the third set at 5-4 on the Croatian’s serve, disconcerted by the noise of the Parisian public. Like a symbol with a final one-handed backhand passing along the line that Coric didn’t even attempt to touch. “I’m happy that he’s riding on my back,” he smiled at the end of the meeting. I know I have a good chance of passing it as I type it. »

The wave of emotions having passed, one of the last two Musketeers in service in French tennis immediately gave “meeting Wednesday” to the supporters of the day for his next round. For his 51st match at Porte d’Auteuil, the Frenchman can calmly wait for the name of his opponent. This should be a surprise to world number 2 Jannik Sinner, if the Italian overcomes the American Christopher Eubanks (46th) this Monday.

“If he plays at his best, he will be the favorite. We played each other twice last year, we had two very good close matches, but he is better than me. There is no doubt, recalled the Bitterois. But I hope it will be a celebration for me! » The former world number 7 has not tasted the joys of a third round on Parisian soil since 2018.


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