Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Not on the court, obviously.
Interesting NYT article on Gasquet: Ljubicic calls him "spoiled"
September 4, 2005
A Slightly Calmer Gasquet Advances
By LEE JENKINS
Richard Gasquet threw his racket again.
This time, it did not hit a linesman in the eye. This time, it did not draw blood. This time, it did not result in disqualification.
The 19-year-old Gasquet has found safer places to dispose of his equipment. Yesterday afternoon, he tossed his racket into the net after losing a point, then calmly picked it up and came back for a five-set victory over Ivan Ljubicic in the third round of the United States Open at Armstrong Stadium.
"I feel a lot better," said Gasquet, who is seeded 13th. "I feel like I saw my progress."
He hopes New York saw it, too. Last year, Gasquet walked off the court when he was trailing in a match at the Bronx Challenge. Then he was disqualified from an Open qualifying match for throwing his racket. That the racket accidentally hit a linesman and caused blood to trickle down his face did not help Gasquet's reputation. He went home to France and met with Alain Gonzalez, a family friend who works with troubled adolescents.
Gasquet was suffering from many symptoms of child celebrity. He was on a magazine cover at 9, won at Monte Carlo at 15 and was hailed as the next great French tennis prodigy. But at the start of this year, Gasquet had never won a match in a Grand Slam event. His tantrums were significantly more celebrated than his blistering backhand.
Like many tennis-playing teenagers, Gasquet might have just needed some more time. He beat Roger Federer in Monte Carlo this year, reached the third round at the French Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon. After his second-round opponent at the United States Open retired during their match earlier in the week, Gasquet joked with the French news media that he was supposed to be the one who quit.
"What happened here last year was not good for me," Gasquet said. "But I now have more experience and am more mature. I worked a lot after my disqualification, and I think I learned a lot."
Gasquet is hardly the first young player to throw his racket, although he may be among the first to cause real injury. Racket-tossing is a longstanding tradition among 12-year-olds and professionals alike. Gustavo Kuerten was disqualified from a Wimbledon doubles match in 1998 when he threw his racket in the direction of an umpire. Guillermo Coria threw his racket at the French Open in 2003 and nearly hit a ball girl. Tim Henman did hit a ball girl at Wimbledon in 1995, but it was with a ball instead of a racket.
Gasquet still has a hard time keeping his racket in his hand and still makes the unexpected part of his game. When balls carom off the back fence, he routinely kicks them or bounces them off his head, playing hacky sack in addition to tennis. Trailing early in yesterday's match, Gasquet irritated Ljubicic by repeatedly calling for a trainer during changes to massage his sore right elbow. When Gasquet took command later in the match, he no longer called for the trainer.
"He's a little weird," Ljubicic, seeded 18th, said after his 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2 loss. "He can play great or he can play horrible. He's spoiled. I think he'll grow as a person, but right now, he's a kid and he's acting as a kid."
Ljubicic had similar comments two years ago for Andy Roddick, whom he accused of riling the crowd and alienating fellow players. Gasquet has been compared more often with Rafael Nadal, who was born 15 days earlier and became a force in tennis much more quickly.
In this year's Open, however, Gasquet is in the fourth round and Nadal is out.
Gasquet would prefer not to talk about his racket-chucking any longer. A few more victories, and the subject will probably be smashed.