Everyone knows that Richard Gasquet was invested with countless expectations when he was younger, especially after winning the Roland Garros junior in 2002. Once he turned professional, the Frenchman was unable to fully express his talent, winning 15 ATP titles and boasting a best ranking of number 7 ATP.
One of the black beasts of the transalpine was certainly Rafael Nadal, who beat him in all sixteen direct clashes in the main circuit. Not many people know that Gasquet defeated Nadal when they first met at the age of 12 during a tournament in Tarbes.
Interviewed recently by the newspaper L’Equipe, Richard confided that he had immediately glimpsed the enormous potential of the Majorcan (future World number 1 and undisputed king of the red clay).
Gasquet on Rafael Nadal
“Everyone told me about him.
But that’s the problem in France. You are young, but you have to demonstrate all the time, and in Spain, you grow more easily. But yes, there was a rivalry with Rafael Nadal,” Richard Gasquet said. “There was a lot of expectation, a lot of newspaper articles, and (it was) 33 degrees.
No one remembers that, but I do,” Gasquet said, while referring to conditions that were apparently better suited for his rival. “Look at him in 2005 in Monte Carlo, with a ground game, from right to left, and look at him now: he hits everything.
He is a much better tennis player now. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have this ability to find that something to be even better year after year. It’s crazy, many of us have made less progress than they have over the years and I can hardly explain it.
We cannot do it, (but) they can” – the French concluded. The Big Three are the top three players of all-time in terms of Grand Slam titles won, as well as the top three players in terms of Major finals reached. Federer has reached 31 finals, Nadal 27, and Djokovic 26.
They are the only three male players in history to win eight or more singles titles at the same Grand Slam: Nadal with 12 French Open titles, Federer with eight Wimbledon titles, and Djokovic with eight Australian Open titles.
(On the women’s side, Martina Navratilova won nine times at Wimbledon, while Molla Mallory won eight US Championships, a predecessor of the US Open). They have also occupied the top three positions of the year-end singles ATP Rankings eight times, in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018 and 2019.