Rough translation courtesy of Google with a little vetting from me. I don't think I have the gist quite right on some of his comments.
"You have to have some balls to succeed"
Richard Gasquet is only 28 years old but he has already experienced almost everything: the cover of Tennis Magazine at 9, la Central in Monte Carlo at 15, the taste of victory against Federer at 18, a positive test at 23. A few days after winning in Estoril and just before stepping onto the clay of Roland Garros, one that France early on considered as a fallen hope settles for an initial assessment. And uses it to swing a few well-chosen backhands.
From the beginning of the season, you had a back injury. The injury, it is ultimately the only time a tennis player can live a normal life a little ...
I'd rather be on the tour and not have pain. But its true that it’s rare to be able to settle down. Football players sometimes come out to me: "It's hard, football, there lots of fields." I want to tell them: "Youre nice guys, but in tennis, we travel much more." In January, you're in Australia, you follow that with the United States in March, then you go back in August. You go to Asia after Europe before. I have never celebrated a birthday, because it always falls right at Wimbledon. Same for December 31: I always have a match the next day. I never saw midnight at New Year; at 10pm, I'm in bed. That's the life of a tennis pro, we’re used to it. You don’t even think about it. By day you train; at night, you go to the restaurant two blocks from the hotel and then you come home. It's a routine. There's no guy in the circuit that takes the time to tour around. I was born in Béziers, I never thought I'd live a life traveling to the right, left, playing in big stadiums with spectators by the thousands. It's awesome when you think about it. But the day I stop for sure that I will avoid some flying.
When there is turbulence on the plane you’re on, do you think of plane crashes?
Inevitably. The plane in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur-Beijing, the 0:10 flight, I took it three times. You don’t think about it too much but when it moves slightly, you remember that there was an accident three days before. That's life. In 1998 at the US Open, Marc Rosset was supposed to fly TWA which eventually crashed. He got up a little late, it made him shit to fly later that night so he canceled his ticket. A New York-Geneva! Normally this is not a destination that sucks.
Your father wanted you to be first a "good sport". It is different from the Agassi or Williams fathers who plan the lives of their children to be No. 1 at all costs ...
Other players have always had career plans, saying, "I want to be number 1 in the world." Me, it was never my thing. I have not been shaped to become a champion. I played for the pleasure of the game. I arrived at 16 years among the best, very strong, very young. It was a shock. Even for my parents. I talked with them as recently as a week ago. We discussed again the cover of Tennis Magazine. I was 9 years old. He just did it like that, you do not realize. I was asked my opinion, it pissed me off, yes, but we were in the South, we do not ask questions. But a young man today it is clear that I would tell him not to do so.
Much is said about this one, but the real turning point in your career comes in Monte Carlo in 2002. You are 15 years old, you get out of quallifications and you beat Franco Squillari, the French Open semi-finalist in the first round. You didn’t think 'this is easy'?
It was pretty amazing. I was 30 at the start of the tournament. I just moved to Paris. I received an invitation to Monte Carlo, I went there to see. After Squillari, I faced Safin, I lost, but in two tight sets. It was a dream, to face a tennis idol like him. But it's almost a shame to have arrived so strong, so young. After, you have everyone on your back: the Federation, the media, sponsors, French tennis in general. Everyone expected me become world number 1.
(He cuts in)
There had never been anyone as strong as me at 15 years old. It never existed. Well, that would be better than the case today, but in France, no player has played both as well. You are immediately labeled as a genius. You have too much expectation about you.
It has often been said that your parents were overprotective. It seems that during a youth tournament, your mother had even begged you to give up because it was too hot.
We were told many things about me, that’s full of crap. That, for example, it is bullshit. Matches in a crazy heat, I played in full and I can tell you that it was my mother who told me to stay on the court. You can always tell yourself 'I do not care, I don’t listen' but hey, it's damn annoying all the same.
Where do these 'bullshit' come from, according to you?
From France in general. And French tennis in particular, which too does not accept the presence of the father with the son. The French tennis is a microcosm where everyone speaks without saying anything.
Hollande says he will sometimes read comments on the internet about him. Do you as well?
Today, I avoid it. Honestly, I sweat when I go on lequipe.fr: the stuff below the articles, the comments, it drives you crazy. When it is negative, you say to yourself: "But it's not possible to read such things." This is the coffee trade. But it’s nothing to lose sleep over either. It goes away in time.
You want to respond to those who say that you've failed in your career even if you were still world 7?
It's the same old shift. At 15, you're nicknamed 'the little Mozart'. So if you do not win Roland Garros, they will necessarily see it as a failure. You always wanted me world number 1, so that I do not have the right to be only number 7. In people’s minds, it’s just average. (He pauses.)
I've always hoped to win a Grand Slam. But I was not sure. Each time I lost is because I have not been strong enough. I made a semi-final at Wimbledon, Federer was stronger than me; and Nadal, it has been two years since the US Open, I had no chance to beat him. He had fucked with everyone all summer. It is I who have not progressed as fast as the expectations placed in me.
When do you think you may have missed out on something?
At 18. I screwed up. I had a rather complicated 2004. I have blown a fuse in a challenger in Bronx, against Julien Jeanpierre. He breaks my serve in the third set, I break my racket, pick up a penalty point and right there and then I picked up my bag and split. A week later, at the qualifying of the US Open, I throw my racket to the ground. It hits a line judge. Disqualified. Two beautiful shitty weeks. I almost quit tennis. I was on the verge of going ask Arnaud Lagardère to intern anywhere in the box. But without tennis, my life is nothing. I lived it since I was 4 years old. Stop tennis? I could not imagine. Even today.
The comparison with Nadal is always brought up. He is only fifteen days older than you, you're friends, you beat him when you were young and then he went past you once you got on the ATP Tour. Perhaps because he built himself up physically, which has not really been your case ...
I'm not going to say otherwise. Nadal has a bigger tank than me. The work, I have done less, it's clear. I was more with the view of playing tennis, the technique, the fun. Even when I went up to 7, I did not go to the gym. I played a lot, four hours a day, no problem. I loved and I still love the game.
This winter, you went you train at home in Manacor ...
In life, Rafa is the antithesis of a star. He is very simple. His life is regulated only for tennis. I remember we played all day on a Tuesday; late at night, he went to Barcelona, he had stuff to do there, it ended at 2am, he took a flight at 5am, he slept three hours and at 10:30 the next day we were on court to train for four hours. He doesnt stop. Never. He’s a machine. One must suffer in tennis, in order to win a match in 5 sets and two days later play another. But suffer like Nadal, I do not see any other.
Perhaps because he has his uncle and coach, Toni, to kick his ass. You may have missed a Toni Nadal in your career, right?
Certainly, I do not have the answer. It is true that his uncle can be very hard. He gives his nephew shit sometimes when he misses shots ... He speaks of him as a kid. Only Rafa can stand things like that.
Mentally, too, there is a gap between you.
I sometimes lacked self-esteem. There are players like Djokovic or Federer, who have huge confidence in themselves, greater than mine. This is what it takes to be in the very best, to be very, very great. What I'm not. I think I'm a good player, but I have not won a Grand Slam or whatever. For that, you need a bit of balls. In France, it's not going very well. Perhaps here we do not have it either, unlike in American culture.
Do you agree with Noah when he said that "stupidity is an essential quality in tennis?
We must not think too much, that's true. A bit of bullshit, in tennis, that's good. It takes a degree of madness to play a Davis Cup final in front of 27,000 people. A guy that’s too smart, who thinks about all parameters, inevitably, he will crash.
And all we need now is a bit of madness in today's tennis?
It's a bit too sanitized. Fortunately, you still have Nadal and Federer, but when they go... Behind, you have the Raonic, Dimitrov, Nishikori. They inspire fewer dreams, anyway. McEnroe or Connors, that's something else in terms of charisma. I wish I could play at that time. The physical was less dominant, it was less professionalized, there was less media, the guys get fewer headaches about what they say. Everything is calculated to the millimeter now. As soon as you say something, you take a penalty point. A point penalty is a fine. And a fine, not bad money. Everything is arranged so that you are not a twat.
You like watching tennis?
Not with all the players, I have to say. Jo, Gael, I enjoy because there's always something. Or when I come across a Federer-Nadal match. Even Murray-Djokovic, it does not make me excited. You know they’re going to play right and left, there is no opposition of styles, no creativity. I prefer to watch football.
Even if you have been cleared thereafter, the positive control for cocaine in Miami in 2009 marked a break in your career. How did you experience this?
I got slaughtered. It was horrible. You turn on your television, you see yourself all the time. I go buy L’Équipe Magazine, and I see the title "Miami Vice". A butcher shop. After that, I checked my cutlery, my Coke bottles, I check that the caps are tightly closed. I thought someone might have put something in it. I went to the restaurant, a buddy ordered what I was going to eat and I his dish… This paranoia lasted the entire season, until early 2010.
You remember how you heard the news?
I had just lost in Rome, I was at the airport. A guy called me before I took my flight. He speaks English but with a Marseilles accent. For real. Today, I understand, but at the time, in 2009, I was younger ... I had to go so I gave the guy’s number to my agent: "Hey, remember because I did not understand." He remembered once we landed in Paris, turns to me, said: "Richard, you've tested positive for cocaine." You don’t really understand. You tell yourself that this is a mistake. But I prefered they told me cocaine instead of EPO or something stupid like that. Oddly, it's a little better, coke, it's less cheating. EPO would have killed me.
What was your first reaction?
I said, "Fuck, I am not well. What will happen? "I called my mother. Then I remember the day it became known publicly. It was a Saturday. I was with Eric Deblicker, at his home in St. Cloud. You know it will happen in an instant. An explosion. She liked this story ... (smile)
Leconte had charged to you at the time, demanding a severe punishment. You had said back to him: 'He may not be the best person  in Paris ...
Yeah, he had a completely stupid reaction. I really wanted to kill him instantly. Today, it's okay, it was explained. He knows he said something stupid.
One feels that there isn’t always the great love between the former French players ...
I found them quite soured recently. I did not like all the comments after the defeat in the Davis Cup against Switzerland last year. There is no affiliation with the former French tennis. While in Australia, for example, Rafter and Hewitt are involved.
There was also this incredible story: you'd be the lover of Arnaud Lagardère.
I can not tell you why it is said of such stuff on me. I even I am concerned because I consider myself quite 'normal'. If he has two things which I am at odds, they are drugs and homosexuality. I respect everyone, I have no problem with that but I can swear, I am the opposite of that.
You repeat much that you are a 'normal guy'. But what is it, normal?
I had a pretty hectic life for a normal guy. I didn’t grow up into normality. Turning 16 and labeled as very, very great player, there are not many to whom it happens. I was not in high school drinking cafes after classes but on a tennis court in the world.
It's complicated to have a lasting relationship with the life you lead?
I will answer you sincerely: up to 25 years, I did not want to have anything serious. Today I am 28, I enter another phase. I'm ready to have someone in my life. It was a choice. I did not want to have more trouble than that. May it be possible, eh, look at Federer, he has four children! But you have to have your girl in the luggage. You must follow us and our moods in the victories and defeats. This is special.
You say Sarkozy vote but you never explained why. So?
Sarkozy, I know, I have sympathy and supported by opinion, but still more by affinities. He always liked tennis. I have the phone, I played against him a few times, there are even mounted net (smile). Until the end of my life, I will vote for him.
How does one get to feel French when one just rushes past?
This is not because I spend my time in airports as I do not feel French. Then it often falls on us, we tennis players, but for what, after all? Because we live in Switzerland? I am not trying to defend myself. Jo, you feel that these criticisms affect him. Me? I am in Switzerland. Period.
Like all the French players. I assume. It is an endless debate, but I did not want to talk for hours. As I finish my career, I will come home, that way you will stop bothering me ... Honestly, I do not mind getting reprimanded for that. I'm not saying I'm perfect or anything. I have no lessons to give. Or receive.
Exactly, what do you think we will tell you when you have retired?
You can at least say that I always talk. I got excited too. I had some injuries, I gave up several matches. I titillated some guys. There has never been any half measures with me. When I win, you are very happy for me. When I lose, you do not hesitate to trash me. This stuff is anchored forever. Okay I get it, when you love sports, you can have disproportionate reactions. Even I, who know sports better than all the guys who comment on a football match, I can surprise myself when I say bullshit to berate this or that player. Sport generates hysteria. More than anywhere else, I feel.
You will not be a consultant?
I will avoid it. I will comment may be, but it might not be terrible because I won't rip on guys. For some in the audience, you must be critical. I would be hard, perhaps because I took too much during my career. Some older players do it very well, you think that guys are crazy! They’re attention whores, they want to be seen, to be recognized, we continue to talk about them. They live through us. I try not to say bullshit. And to avoid saying them, one must avoid commenting.
If not a commentator, do you know already what you will do when it's all over?
Golf for two years non-stop, right-handed and left. Then a little football, some lousy club somewhere around Beziers. And I can tell you when you no longer see me. You will forget me.