Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - The Tragedy of Richard G.
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The Tragedy of Richard G. 05/24/2010 - 3:28 PM

Rg “Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising.” So said British author Cyril Connolly. Did he foresee, all the way back in the 1930s, the rise, and thus far the fall, of Richard Gasquet? As a kid, the Frenchman, who this Saturday won his first tournament in three years before losing in a predictable five sets to Andy Murray today, was featured on the cover of the country’s national tennis magazine under this headline: “Richard G: The champion that France awaits?” He was 9 years old. Notice that he wasn’t the “next big thing” or “hope for the future.” France was waiting, presumably with impatience, for Gasquet to grow up.

Has Richard G, the child of two teaching pros who still wears his baseball hat backward and apparently likes to party a little, ever grown up? As a junior, he somehow managed to live up to that towering, looming potential; he was ranked No. 1 in the world at age 16. But he had behavioral problems—he was defaulted from the U.S. Open for drilling someone with a ball one year—and struggled in his early seasons on tour, until he broke from his parents. Gasquet has had a lot of success in the years since, reaching the semis at Wimbledon and cracking the Top 10. But there’s been even more disappointment, including a hideous five-set record and the embarrassment of having been perceived to be too "scared" to play a Davis Cup match for France against the U.S.

From a technical standpoint, Gasquet doesn’t have an unbeatable serve or forehand, which everyone must have who wants to win a Slam at this point. Aside from that, he really is a world-class talent, with speed and flair and variety, and, when he’s got it all going, the most uncanny and inexplicable timing of any player I’ve ever seen. But it’s not good enough; France is still waiting.

Like anyone else, Gasquet has to fight his opponents and the usual demons, but he also has to fight his childhood version of himself, the one who, in a mythic way, is better than the 23-year-old he is now. You can see that kid break out of the adult body at certain moments, what I call Gasquet’s Microwave moments. These are the stretches of games when, like the old Detroit Pistons guard Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, he can’t miss—he couldn’t miss if he tried. Gasquet hits winners effortlessly, from anywhere and to anywhere, making up angles and trajectories that no one knew existed on a tennis court before. He doesn’t even seem to be looking at the ball or swinging particularly hard. The only way you know how fast the ball is traveling is that his opponents can't even take a step before it's past them. It can’t be explained, other than as something Gasquet was born with. You can imagine that when adults saw him hit these same types of inexplicable shots as a kid, shots no one had seen before, they must have believe he was the future of French tennis.

The Microwave returned for the better part of two sets against Murray today on Court Suzanne Lenglen. I was fifth row center for it, and it was a scene. The stands were overflowing, and the chants of “Ree-shar!”—a chant we haven’t heard a whole lot here—echoed over the grounds. Early in the first set, Gasquet took a perfect Murray lob, let it bounce, and absolutely tattooed it past him. You can tell a player’s natural talent by his overhead—the best of them, like Rafael Nadal’s, have a pistol-crack sound—and Gasquet, when he’s loose, pistol-cracks it as well as anyone. At this moment, amid of all his fans on this bright red clay court, with flair to spare in every stroke, Gasquet looked like the embodiment of French tennis, if not its next champion.

But it’s more complicated than that, and Gasquet is more complicated than that. A few years ago he was accused by a French tennis writer of being coddled throughout his career and never forced to “become a man.” (Gasquet said the article was “hogwash.”) But while hitting impossible shots may be child’s play for him, it takes a man to do the dirty work of winning. Murray, I thought, was ready to go out. He was too keyed up to start, too easily frustrated, too ready to believe the worst—if I didn’t know better, I’d say he had one eye pointed at London, one foot on grass. He looped his backhand with more topspin than usual and looked cautious and uncomfortable when attacking.

When Gasquet broke for 3-2 in the third, it was all over—for the Frenchman. You could see in his eyes that now, for the first time, the pressure was on, he was supposed to win this match, France was waiting again. It didn’t help that Gasquet lost from two sets and a break up against Murray at Wimbledon in 2008; he served for that match before blowing it, and, while he denied it afterward, it was clear he hadn’t forgotten the experience. On the first point at 3-2, Gasquet went for a backhand up the line, a Microwave-esque shot he’d been making all day. This time he was late on it and missed it badly. His nervous grimace afterward wasn’t a good sign. I almost said out loud, “He’s done.”

I should have. When he was broken, Gasquet suddenly appeared ready to throw everything away, as if he'd been waiting for disaster all along. Even serving at 4-5 in the third, right after he'd broken a still-shaky Murray, Gasquet double faulted to lose the set. He had nothing left, physically, after that. In Gasquet’s case, the man, the guy who has to hit the last shot under pressure, just can’t measure up to the kid, who gets to have all the let-it-rip fun. The man was asked afterward, “At what point did you feel the match was slipping away.” His answer was sad: “The game at 3-2, 3-2, I could . . . in the third set. That’s the most important game in the match for me. And I missed it.” It’s a sad answer, and a telling one, because Gasquet was unable to explain, to himself or to us, what happened. It's never been his forte. He’s still a boy genius at heart.

Still, it hasn’t been a bad run for Gasquet of late. It may have even been the start of a new road ahead. He won a challenger two weeks ago, and the tournament in Nice last week—those 10 matches obviously took their physical toll today. When I got to Paris Saturday, the Nice final was on TV. After, predictably, blowing a lead against Fernando Verdasco, Gasquet came back to win in a third-set tiebreaker. It was a low-level event, but you wouldn’t have known it by his reaction. Gasquet fell flat on his back as if he’d won the French Open. He hadn’t, of course, but he had won in France. The home crowd stood and cheered. For that day, at least, in a small way, Richard G. was the champion they’d been awaiting.


 
49
Comments
 

Posted by MZK 05/24/2010 at 03:44 PM

With hindsight, if Gasquet had successfully served out the second set against Verdasco this weekend, he would have been fresher today and would have been able to close it out. Still, he does seem destined to remain a tragic figure, kind of like Roddick, except Andy did at least have that fleeting moment in the sun.

The other Andy dodged a bullet, but despite myself I'm hoping somebody else puts him out of his misery. It's been such a chore to watch him this year post-Australia. Now that Murray has completed the career Slam of flops (poor USO and AO finals, failing to take advantage of being the top remaining seed left in the draw next to Fed last year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon), I've kind of lost patience with him for now.

Posted by federer_legend 05/24/2010 at 03:48 PM

i guess Gasquest has lost matches after being 2sets to love up more than any one in the historty ,it's just a pity because his backhand _for me _ is the best in the history .

Posted by Woody 05/24/2010 at 04:10 PM

Steve - thank you for these splendid French essays, full of delightful aperçus and more often than not a poignant phrase to conclude.

Posted by Blue_Mountain 05/24/2010 at 04:13 PM

This makes you think what could have happened if the organizer granted his wish for a Tuesday match.

Posted by M 05/24/2010 at 04:18 PM

You gave him way too much credit. And as if he's been taken for granted, in addition to his misfortune. Thats not true!
Everybody knows, growing up is mandatory. It has nothing to do with heart. Murray inwardly outshot and in general out played him.

Posted by JJ 05/24/2010 at 04:24 PM

Gasquet is my favorite player, even though he constantly breaks my heart. Maybe he doesn't have enough heart or desire. I thought he would fight a bit more the last two sets. He seemed to lean on the fact he was tired from Nice too much. Still, for me it is hard not to love someone whose backhand is as beautiful as a Ted Williams home run swing.

Posted by Or 05/24/2010 at 04:25 PM

I left work to get a massage when Mr. Gasquet was up two sets in a break.

4 hours later...

I couldn't freakin' believe it.

Posted by nora 05/24/2010 at 04:28 PM

I thought he just ran out of gas in an extremely difficult first-rounder against a huge opponent. I thought the commentary was poor: Murray sucked, but he's still an imposing figure across the net.

I think Gasquet is back on track and will improve and do well this year.

Posted by Kristy 05/24/2010 at 04:31 PM

I thought Murray looked a lot more committed than usual -- his body language is always negative, but he seemed to be rousing his sluggish competitive spirit a lot more than he's usually able to when his opponent is on fire.

Richard was brilliant. I watched the second set and left the cafe where they had it on -- I assumed Gasquet had it in the bag. But I didn't know his story. Thanks for this insightful post.

Posted by coookies 05/24/2010 at 04:37 PM

It's true he was tired, but we've seen him time and time again not being able to close out matches. I feel sorry for him and all the pressure he's been put under because of his natural talents. He's turning 24 this year so it seems like time is running out for him. Murray, Djokovic and Nadal are also turing 24, all in May or June, coincidentally. Murray's age surprised me because I think of him as the "next" generation (the 20-22 year olds Del Potro, Cilic, Nishikori etc) but he really late to his generation (those born around 1986). The Fed/Rafa generations bleeding into one another didn't give much a chance to those who weren't Rafa or Roger, unfortunately.

Richard just breaks my heart, I hope he will do well at Wimbledon.

Posted by zolarafa 05/24/2010 at 04:42 PM

I wish it was the triumph and not the tragedy. This can stick to Gasquet's mind for a long time, espcially now that he seemed to be pulling himself out of whatever that was holding him back.

I hope he can forget about this and do much better in wimbledon. Also credits to Andy Murray for not giving up and fighting for victory.

Posted by deuceThe3rd 05/24/2010 at 04:46 PM

Thanks for writing about one of my faves Gasquet. It is always tough going from winning a tournament on Sunday to playing first round of Grand Slam on Monday. Still, you would think the guy could get a fitness trainer to whip him into shape so that he doesn't fade in these 5 set matches.

I am hopeful that this could still be period of success for Richard. I will continue checking with interest on his progress.

And thank goodness he isn't doing the backwards baseball cap thing anymore!

Posted by mightywind 05/24/2010 at 04:49 PM

Steve - this is another excellent post from RG, thanks. Gasquet is frustrating but (aside from Roger and Rafael) he is the most compelling player to watch in the men's game, at least for my money. It never seems to end well but it's always worth the journey. One of the things that I find interesting is how much pace he is able to generate on his backhand, as compared to, say, Federer. Is that just core strength or from his legs? Anyway, write on, Steve. The CE is a must-read.

Posted by cami 05/24/2010 at 04:56 PM

MZK,
amazing, but i was thinking there is a parallel between roddick and gasquet, both having to carry, alone, the burden of a country's expectations. my theory, as crazy as it might seem, is that for both, a loss is easier to take than a win. because a win, especially a big win, brings expectation for further wins, which is a lot of pressure coming from such big tennis countries like the usa and france.
i stopped watching today at 3-2 in the 3rd because i knew gasquet would lose. the same i stopped watching last year's wimbledon final when roddick had 4 set points in the second set tie-break to make it 2 sets to love. 2 of those 4 set points were on his serve! and he lost them all. and then another 2, to lose the tiebreak. I knew he wasn't going to win, even if it went on forever. because when he could win, when the opportunity presented itself on a platter, he was too scared to take it.
tennis is a cruel sport. because winning is as frightening as losing, if not more.

Steve,
the quote about the gods is the most thought-provoking thing i've read in a long time. thank you for finding and sharing it.

Posted by cb72 05/24/2010 at 05:04 PM

You could take a more relaxed viewpoint- he is an amazingly talented player who is playing a game, he's fun to watch, he's been very successful, and earned a lot of money doing it. The fact that he can play so well, lose a match after having a huge lead, and come back for more- I find inspiring.

Long story short, Verdasco took his legs out. He may recover from this loss long before you do.

Posted by Asperillas 05/24/2010 at 05:07 PM

Remember the year 2002 (or 2003), tennis journalists, claiming that Gasquet was to be the dominant player of tennis because in some Future or Challenger being 15 years had defeated a certain Rafael Nadal, the spanish hope.

In the first RG that Nadal won the L'Equipe newspaper headline the day of the third round match between Gasquet and Nadal, but bad luck to meet Gasquet for the spanish player just had won Montecarlo and Rome.

Talent have both, but the mental strength it was all Nadal.

Posted by Aabye 05/24/2010 at 05:17 PM

Aw, Richie...another one bites the dust. Those first two sets were so beautiful, I was certain he would pull it out this time.

Love the opening quote from CC, it really fits Gasquet's relationship with the French. I was glad to see that they still cheered for him at the end, I was worried that they would boo him off the court despite his effort.

As a fan the best thing to come out of this is that Richard will have plenty of time on the grass, where his game truly thrives, IMHO.

Posted by SR 05/24/2010 at 05:26 PM

Steve - your prompt post is much appreciated. Sounds like many of us, including me, are still suffering/agonizing/lamenting RG's loss today. However, I would agree with some of my fellow posters here that what happened today was far more physical than mental.

I saw the Nice final against Verdasco and it was one of the most intense and compelling battles I've seen this year. RG was blasting winners in the first two sets but then a combination of the physical frailties that plagued him today and Verdasco's improved play led to a huge third-set deficit. That he was able to come back from a point from 1-5 down in the third and win in a tiebreak, after 2 1/2+ hours and nine match victories in a row, AND after the mess with Verdasco and the crowd, speaks volumes about his heart and about just HOW MUCH he wants to live up to his tremendous potential.

Today, he absolutely could have lost that second set. He hung in there and took it and played well enough to continue to give himself chances (too many chances) in the last three sets. His energy ran out. Yes, I do still think there was a mental component simply because he couldn't seize those break point opps in the last three sets and tightened up on key shots like that missed smash. It's one thing to win two sets and another to close it out - that's true. BUT, I have no doubt that he wanted this with all his heart and gave all that he could to get it. In the end it wasn't enough. But I think his body gave out - not his mind.

More conditioning is in order, that's for sure. But this guy is gonna have his breakthrough. He is an absolutely dream to watch - mightywind, I agree that besides Rafa and Roger he is the most compelling player out there. I mentioned over on Pete's site that there is actually a facebook group called the Richard Gasquet Backhand Appreciation Society. Today I was reminded again why. He swings away and you close your eyes and can't believe what you just saw.

Posted by Nina 05/24/2010 at 05:54 PM

@Coookies... Djoko, Murray and Nadal are turning 23 not 24. :)

@ Posted by cami:MZK, amazing, but i was thinking there is a parallel between roddick and gasquet, both having to carry, alone, the burden of a country's expectations.

Isn't that the same for Novak and Murray? easy excuse...

Posted by Nam1 05/24/2010 at 05:59 PM

I know Nadal is turning 24; dont know about Murray and Djoko.

Posted by Tom in Smalltown 05/24/2010 at 06:15 PM

With regard to an earlier comment: "Reeshard" is nothing like Roddick. Roddick has made the absolute most of all his skills. His athleticism is nowhere near what some display on the circuit, and his shots come from a huge--adult, to use Pete's concept--commitment to being his best, both physically and mentally. If Gasquet had anything like Roddick's "adult" persevering character, we'd be talking differently about the rivalries at the top. As you can tell, I admire Roddick--a man who has no reason to hang his head. I feel for Gasquet and hope he can realize some of his potential before all is said and done.

Posted by Yolita 05/24/2010 at 06:33 PM

@Nina:

Nadal is turning 24

Djoko and Murray are turning 23

Posted by Corrie 05/24/2010 at 07:49 PM

Richard doesn't have the burden of a nation all on his own - there's Tsonga too, even Monfils to deflect interest. And this "burden" never stopped Federer.

And Roddick is thousand times more tough and persevering than Gasquet and a mental giant in comparison.

Richard's trouble is, as Steve says, he was cossetted for too long, and he still doesn't appear to have fully grown up. Perhaps some tougher love from the French would help him more than sympathetic cheering for yet another pathetic five set cave in. The ones against Murray at Wimbledon and Gonzo at the AO were incredibly similar to this.

Posted by Corrie 05/24/2010 at 07:56 PM

Richard really needs to work on his fitness too, which would give him more confidence he could hold up in the fifth set. He should aim for the Stefan Edberg standard - where he played three five set matches in a row without a proper day off and came back the next day to beat Sampras in the USO final. I don't see that Richard's efforts in Nice were anything to stop a really fit player.

Posted by Paula V. 05/24/2010 at 08:06 PM

I like your perspective, Steve...and not a bad seat for that match! Some might say that Gasquet lost that match simply because he ran out of gas due to fatigue from Nice, but you have to factor in the mental toughness from Murray. To lose the first two sets and come back to win the match is a testament to Murray's belief in himself, which he hasn't had much of lately. Murray's fitness also gave him the edge in a 4-hour, 5-set match.

Posted by DC 05/24/2010 at 08:30 PM

How about more emphasis on Gasquet's recent success and amount of matches played (included a three set final against Verdasco where he showed some grit)? I believe it serves more justice and fatigue should be noted as more of a contributor in losing this first round match to an in shape Murray who has not played anywhere near the amount of matches Gasquet has recently.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 05/24/2010 at 08:40 PM

I watched the Nice final from 5-4 in the second set, Gasquet serving for the match. What did he do? Promptly lost all four points, then stood by as Verdasco went on a six-game tear that had him looking a lot like his compatriot, Nadal. Then Gasquet called for the trainer for a sore left knee that really did appear to be causing him significant pain. He comes back out, starts firing away froim his heels, balls start landing in, big... and Verdasco gets that worried look on his face. Next thing I know, verdasco is choking and abouyt to cry. Instead, he loses his compsoure, starts barking at everyone from himself to his "team" to the French crown, who then roiundlyu booed him. He was cooked. Talk about a battle of two head cases! They rival Vera Zvonereva in melodrama.

But I thought perhaps Gasquet had turned a corner of sorts, in that he kept his composure thorugh his pain and fought for that match in Nice. But I am now reminded that he had a lot of help on Sunday... from his opponent.

How he loses up a break min the third with a two-sets to love lead is difficult to explain, except that he explained it quite well hiomself... his comments about that 3-2 game says it all -- he had put all his eggs in that one basket. And the thing is, there was absolutely no reason to do so. Tennis is in some ways one of the most forgiving of games. You can stink up the court for 47 straight points in a best of three-set match, and still come back and win. You don't have to close the door on your opponent at the very first opportunity, although that is the ideal all players strive for. It isn't necessary. And when you have a lead as big as Gasquet's today, you will have multiple chances, if you keep hyour head on.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 05/24/2010 at 08:49 PM

Gasquet on a bit of a hot streak, Murray in a bit of a slump...this was an intriguing matchup and I looked forward to sneaking a peek if I could find a stream. Well, four hours later.....**sigh**, talk about the car wreck that slows down traffic! (Not a productive day for me, obviously.)

Enjoying your posts, Steve.

Posted by CGZ 05/24/2010 at 09:29 PM

Sad to see such beautful tennis beaten by this snarly, miserable man. I saw Murray beat Haas in Indian Wells a number of years ago. I started out cheering for him as I have a British background but by the end, with his tantrums, snarls at his opponent and his team, whining over his injuries, I was embarrassed to be cheering for him. Today when he swore after putting a first serve in the net, I saw that he is just the same. TV just doesn't show how unpleasant he is when playing.

Posted by skip1515 05/24/2010 at 09:40 PM

The Connolly quote is perfect. I've heard it before, but like any illuminating thought, when repeated at the right time it makes you hear it again as if it's the first time.

I'm watching the taped match now. 4th set. Gasquet's hat is gone. A sign of things to come? Newfound maturity right around the corner?

Not sure I'd agree with unbeatable serve/killer forehand dictum for winning Big Four titles. Regardless, no one wins day in/day out at the top of the game by hitting through their opponents; players need depth of resolve to carry them through the matches when the main tools aren't firing on all cylinders, and Gasquet still needs for that resolve to be an arrow in his quiver instead of depending on genius to carry the day.

Quick thought: R-oland G-arros, R-ichard G-asquet. Kismet, waiting to come true?

Posted by evangelyst 05/24/2010 at 09:44 PM

"Gasquet hits winners effortlessly, from anywhere and to anywhere, making up angles and trajectories that no one knew existed on a tennis court before."

Really? Not even Federer? I know Gasquet is an incredible talent, but isnt that assessment a little too generous?

Posted by ml 05/24/2010 at 11:37 PM

Steve, It seems like you are writing about Mark Phillipoussis!

Posted by Abhijith Madhav 05/24/2010 at 11:52 PM

> “Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising.” So said British author Cyril
> Connolly.

Nice.

Posted by EC 05/25/2010 at 12:42 AM

Gasquet's many flaws are simply forgiven in my eyes simply by the genius of his shotmaking abilities (however fleeting) in much the same way Ilie Nastase's genius for tennis outweighed his mental meltdowns, generations ago. It's not something easily explained but one thing is certain...it's a joyous adventure watching Gasquet play as much as it was to see Nastase at his best.

Posted by Lida 05/25/2010 at 01:42 AM

When I was watching the match and see Murray lost that 2nd set TB, all I can think of is "now, he will just hang in there and cos he should know Richard will choke"... and then he did. I took no pleasure at predicting this, I felt sad for Richard. Because he played so well and so beautifully and that makes you think he should win, but he didn't. And he started showing he's hurting physically, it's like him putting up a white flag saying that "come take the match now because you can see I can't possibly finished". I know it's harsh, but there's no point of sugarcoating the situation. I've watched all those matches, the last time Richard lost after being 2 sets and a break up, in the last Aussie Open, and the last time before that, also in Aussie Open, and the last time before that, in Wimbledon. It's hard to not feel that Déjà vu. Natural talent can only get him so far, at some point, he also needs to grow a heart and a head. And I can only wish that it won't be too late for him.

Posted by Gigi 05/25/2010 at 02:55 AM

Heartbreaking. Like seeing Amelie Mauresmo lose matches all those years... You want the beautiful tennis to go on forever, and for match after match until the final.

Hope Gasquet can find a way to at least not get beaten by his own physical frailty before it's too late!

Posted by cami 05/25/2010 at 03:16 AM

@Nina

Yes, I think it's the same for Murray, the pressure on him at Wimbledon is just unbelievable. I was there last year and I just couldn't believe the newspapers. Every single day, on the front page there was a huge title that read "Will Murray win Wimbledon?". I remember thinking : If they go on like this with every British player that has a decent shot at it, they might very well never win it again. Not the same for Novak, for the reason that Serbia has never been a big tennis nation, like UK, USA and France.

@Corrie, @Tom in Smalltown

The same goes for Roger. Switzerland, like Serbia, does not have a million year old tennis tradition, and, most importantly, is not a Grand Slam hosting country. I think that too plays a role in all the craziness.
As for Tsonga and Monfils and Simon, they were not deemed "France's future" when they were 9. They came on the big scene a few years ago, when they were already a bit more grown up and could deal with it all. More importantly, they came on the scene at pretty much the same time, as a group, which is always easier than being alone. Which is the reason I compared Gasqued with Roddick. They were singled out as being the next big thing. Which does not bother some, but completely freaks out others. I agree that they are very different players and I think Roddick's limitations are bigger than Gasquet's, but I somehow feel - call it a hunch - that when it comes to winning big (GS level), they both subconsciously cringe because it would bring those crazy expectations back. It's just a theory. Could be very well cancelled if Roddick wins a GS final against Fed or if Gasquet wins the French or if Murray wins Wimbledon. But I don't know. Beside that insane pressure they have Fedal to deal with, too :)

Posted by vernonbc 05/25/2010 at 05:26 AM

CGZ - I've never seen Murray play in person but I hate watching him on tv. He truly is one of the ugliest players I've ever seen with his mugging and cursing and whinging. He may be a good tennis player but he's a nasty person.

Posted by weak40player 05/25/2010 at 10:21 AM

As much as I admire Reeshard's ball-striking ability, it's clear to me that he is, simply put, weak. I base that not on just this one loss, but on his repeated performance in big moments throughout his career. Don't get me wrong, I admire the guy and feel for him, but he just doesn't have a strong fighting spirit. (I'll avoid WWII references here, except for this one.)

Despite his hang-dog look, Murray was far more prepared to go the distance today. I just happened to tune into the match as Murray was breaking back in the 3rd, and you could almost see the hope in Gasquet evaporate and the finish line receded into the distance. Reeshard seemed to toss in the towel at that moment, spoiling his good work to that point. A tougher man would have stood firm; may have been a pyrrhic victory (as it may have been for Murray), but it would have been worth fighting for.

Of course, perfection is over-rated and a bit boring. Gasquet certainly puts a human face on the game and is someone we lowly league warriors can identify with. (The frustrations, not the shot making.)

Posted by Philip 05/25/2010 at 10:55 AM

Steve, of course you know where Gasquet's abilities come from: it is from his impeccable technique, which he learned at an early age. But you should have put all of this in its proper context rather than trying to write poetically about some sort of innate ability Gasquet was born with. That is 'hogwash' as Gasquet would tell you. The guy was tired from the last two weeks of winning tournaments, the last match he needed treatment on his legs and Murray has not had a lot of matches recently so he was quite fresh. A little bit of realism would be appreciated. If you want to write fiction, start a sci-fi blog.

Posted by Som 05/25/2010 at 11:00 AM

I agree with some of the other posters here Cami. I don't think you can draw parallel between Roddick and Gasquet. Roddick is extremely hard working guy who has made the best of his limitations. I don't think he choked against Fed last year. I watched the whole match and only mistake I could remember was that volley. Fed just served thunderbolts. Ofcourse Gasquet can play a variety of shots that Roddick can't but Roddick is way stronger mentally. Didn't Roddick's only GS title come on his own home turf ? Gasquet is someone that my Badminton coach would describe as "pessimistic player". The one when he's winning would think, when will the other player wake up and end my run. When things got tough in 3rd, he just accepted his defeat.

Posted by Sam 05/25/2010 at 12:31 PM

" Still, for me it is hard not to love someone whose backhand is as beautiful as a Ted Williams home run swing."

Amen.

Posted by monterey 05/25/2010 at 01:04 PM

What hyperbole. POTENTIAL talent means nothing, the ability to hit a few good shots means nothing. The only thing that counts are RESULTS. And everybody knows that. Wasn't Fed described this way pre-2003? A spectacular shotmaker who couldn't put it all together. Rios as well. And many others. Well, Fed at least got it all together and how.

REALIZED talent in the form of wins, titles, will be remembered not could've been, should've been, would've been. You either do it or you don't. It's very simple.

And please stop with this nonsense about how Gasquet hits shots that no one else can. Lot of players can hit those shots once in a while but can they do it when it counts, that's the question. This is where Roger and Rafa excel, phenomenal shotmakers who do it when everything's on the line.

So tiring, this Gasquet hype. Yeah, Baby Fed and all that nonsense. Maybe in an alternate universe.

Posted by Fred 05/25/2010 at 03:27 PM

Career earnings of $4,506,731 at age 23. Tragic.

Posted by L 05/25/2010 at 04:05 PM

I don't know what kind of expectation ppl have on Gasquet anymore. I don't think there's a french out there really expecting him to win RG anymore. As a fan, I'm expecting him to have a few good rounds and that's all. Granted, a Top4 seed in the first round is a really tall task, that's a bit unfortunately. But Murray is low in confident, lacking form and result on clay coming into this tournament. Richard has the match in his hand, it's only a first round match (imagine how much more pressure when the prize becomes higher). He beat Verdasco in a final in Nice, he played 4 consecutive days before the final and was on court for almost 3 hours and still managed. Verdasco is a much better claycourter than Murray and ranked not far behind. Comparing the 2 result, I somehow felt that playing Roland Garros has an effect on him. And I kept hearing the commentators saying that Gasquet needs to man up to take the match. I found it hard to disagree with them anymore.

Posted by kym 05/25/2010 at 10:55 PM

It's heart breaking when you are up two sets and a break and lose eventually. We know that Gasquet is Gas-manque (out of gas) because of the matches in Nice. But Gasquet seems to have the habit of doing this: losing in five with two sets lead. We of course remember the match against Murray in Wimbledon 2008, but not many remember the match against speedy Gonzales (in Australia). He was not out of gas in these two events. The only explanation for this tragic fact is Gasquet is a little tired when he reaches the fifth set. In tennis, you make people know you with your backhand because anyone can play the forehand perfectly. Gasquet has one of the best backhands, if not the best. Because he plays it more often for winners and it is a one-handed backhand, he easily get tired and the efficiency is reduced greatly in the fifth set.

Posted by Deuce 05/25/2010 at 11:12 PM

Hi Steve! Thanks for the article on Richard. I too love watching the boy wonder at work and wondewr if he can ever grow up. Once upon a time he was dubbed Vavy Fed. Let's hope he can recover from this.

Posted by Ryota 05/26/2010 at 12:21 AM

I watched this match. When Gasquet broke Murray and failed to consolidate, I just knew that the wheels would fall off from there. Gasquet may have the prettiest backhand but in the end, he's just a headcase. Kudos to Murray who hung in there.

Posted by Tricia 10/20/2010 at 09:32 AM

Richie is just so hard to watch. I saw him play Youzhny in Melbourne at Oz Open this year and it was heartbreaking. Everyone was screaming for him to win, but you sort of always knew he would lose. It's hard to be a fan because it's such a roller coaster of emotions. Is it true Richie had a sibling who died and this is why his parents cossetted him so much?


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