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Richard Gasquet… the great French hope

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Richard Gasquet stretches to return the ball to Kei Nishikori during their men’s fourth round match at the French Open in Paris…on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP.

Richard Gasquet stretches to return the ball to Kei Nishikori during their men’s fourth round match at the French Open in Paris…on Sunday. PHOTO: AFP.

In the contribution of the French language to the human lexicon, force majeure has remained for centuries. An anonymous sage once said, “of all sad words of prose and rhyme, the saddest are ‘it might have been.’”

The rain interruption of the match on Sunday between Richard Gasquet and Kei Nishikori did more than swing the momentum. It provided the possibility for the French to have a hope (l’espoi) in the greatest tournament on clay in the world.

As the organisers of the French Open announced the cancellation of play yesterday, Day 9, due to rain, we could review the Gasquet upset victory of the day. The cancellation notice further stated that the Federation Francaise de Tennis (FFT) would reimburse, upon request, tickets for the rained out day.

The Grand-Slam tournaments are run by the respective tennis associations in each home country: Tennis Australia, FFT, Tennis Association, and the United States Tennis Association respectively, on the authority of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) .

When play resumed after the rain delay on Day 8, Gasquet took four straight games to win the first set and was leading 5-1 in the second before Nishikori reduced the tally, yet conceded at 6/2 when Gasquet unleashed his lethal one-handed backhand down the line. The crowd went wild in support of the hometown hero. Also they booed when their man received a code violation for signaled coaching.

Nishikori took the third set. In the opening game of the fourth set, Gasquet broke his opponent’s serve; thereafter raising his fist to the partisan crowd chanting “Allez Richard.” With a second break of serve, the Frenchman served for the match and won four straight points on errors by the Japanese star.

In his interview after the match, Gasquet recalled how, in a fourth-round match some few years back, he was leading Warwinka two sets to love but lost. This time, he said he was motivated by the occasion and the home crowd.

“The rain interruption did me a lot of good because we (Coach Sergi Brugera and I) had a chat. I was down 2-4 because of wrong strategy. If I didn’t hit back against a player as good as Kei, there was no way to win. Winning the first set was great for the rest.”

Looking ahead to his quarterfinal match against Andy Murray, Gasquet said: “I need to play very offensive because if not, it will be difficult for me to win. Today, it was like a Davis Cup match. I admit it made a big difference for me. And of course it will be the same on Tuesday, but for sure I need to play a big match to beat Andy. We have played together very often. He’s always defeated me in the Grand slams but I’ll like to change the tide.”

He has won only three of his 10 previous matches against the Scot.With the withdrawal of Gail Monfills at the outset, and the injury-caused dropping out by Joe- Wilfred Tsonga, Monsieur Richard Gasquet would be carrying the French hope in the championships. As his compatriots say to him: “Bonne chance Richard”, we say “Vive La France!”



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