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Ace Tracker 07-27-2002 01:14 AM

How good is Richard Gasquet?
TAMPERE, Finland (AP) -- French tennis sensation Richard Gasquet beat Filip Prpic of Sweden 6-2, 6-4 Friday to reach the semifinals of a Finnish Challenger event on clay.

Playing on his favorite surface, the 16-year-old Gasquet dropped his serve twice in a row at the start of the second set to Prpic, a 20-year-old who made the main draw in the Swedish Open earlier this month.

Trailing 4-1, he came back to break the Swede's serve three straight times, and his serve was never challenged as he won five consecutive games to close out the match.

"I played well in the first set, but couldn't stay focused early in the second," said Gasquet, who is seeded third in the Tampere Imageneering Open. "Then I started playing well again. I didn't want to lose against that guy."

Gasquet won in straight sets for the eighth time in his last nine Challenger matches. Early this month, the world's top junior won a French Challenger at Montauban, then lost the final in his next Challenger.

By reaching the quarterfinals two days earlier in front of a big crowd -- former six-time French Open champion Bjorn Borg of Sweden was among the spectators -- Gasquet broke into the top 200 on the ATP Entry System for the first time.

He has broken several milestones this year.

At the French Open, Gasquet became the youngest player at age 15 to make the men's main draw at Roland Garros.

Earlier, he became the youngest player in the main draw of a Masters Series event (Monte Carlo) and the youngest player ever at the Queen's Club grass-court tournament (London).

Gasquet, whose parents and former coaches Francois and Maruse traveled with him to Finland, will play the winner between Simon Greul of Germany and Radim Zitko of the Czech Republic in Saturday's semis.

In another quarterfinal, France's Julien Varlet topped Mattias Hellstrom of Sweden 6-4, 6-1.

Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, a finalist in last year's Stockholm Open indoor ATP tournament, is the top seed in Tampere.

Chloe le Bopper 07-27-2002 01:54 AM

Thankyou for the article.

Has anyone actually seen him play?

I always get intrigued when a young player starts making some waves, and with him being so young its even more interesting.

TennisHack 07-27-2002 01:55 AM

Richard Gasquet has many good things going for him. There is no reason he shouldn't meet Jarkko in the finals, though I think (and want) Jarkko to/will defend his challenger title and gain the confidence he'll need in the main draw at TMS Toronto.

We have to remember that Richard is only 15, so it might be a few years before he comes full force on the main tour. He is an excellent clay court player, taking a set from Albert Costa at the French (and then winning the boys singles title--how's that for irony?), but I'm not sure about other surfaces.

Right now, all of Richard's accompishments are gravy. In the coming years, as he plays opponents as good and better than him, then we'll see what he's truly made of.

TennisHack 07-27-2002 01:55 AM

Check that, he's 16.

My they grow up fast :)

Chloe le Bopper 07-27-2002 01:56 AM

I think that he turned 16 just recently actually, but same difference ;)

Dissident 07-27-2002 02:40 AM

Ive seen him play Safin. He is good. Has the weapons for a clay court menace-in-the-making. I dont know about his fitting to other courts, because its clear his game is not ready yet. He has many things to learn yet, and it wont be good to rush things. Each thing at its proper time. He should be great to the boom when he reaches his 18 I guess. :)

It will be hard for him to be that patient though.

Chloe le Bopper 07-27-2002 05:18 AM

But one would have thought the same about Hewitt too, who at 15 was the youngest qualie of a grand slam ever...

Tryphon 07-27-2002 12:00 PM

I saw him play, both in person and on TV.

One of the interesting things about him is that he already has a complete game, not just one serve and one big forehand as many of the youngsters who then have to try master other tools.
He can come to the net, lob, dropshot...
He has natural timing hence the quickness of his backhand and forehand, doesn't look like he is rushing or overhitting.

His game doesn't seem to be a typical clay court game so he should be able to do well on hard courts and indoors. I'm not so sure for grass as his forehand and backhand preparation are somewhat big although he probably has the talent to learn and adjust.

His tactics are also as good as possible for somewhat that young.
Also physically he looks like he is going to be a great athlete.

So his future seems as bright as his past already is but then with teenage boys you never know, some have disappeared along the way, burning out, getting big-headed, or simply reaching their peak early and then being run over by other players maturing more slowly.

I hope he doesn't rush his career too much although his progress is great to follow. Congrats for the ranking!

Good luck Richard! :bounce:

Athena 07-27-2002 12:45 PM

I did see him and he was pretty good !!!

Andromeda 07-27-2002 01:30 PM

I saw him beat Franco Squillari, it was either at Hamburg, Rome, or Monte Carlo. He has a backhand like Guga's and some good power. I'm impressed with him.

warfreakbix 07-27-2002 04:33 PM

How tall is he? And physically can he compete with the big hitters on tour now or in a couple of years?

Chloe le Bopper 07-27-2002 05:00 PM

The ATP has him listed as 5'11 and 180 pounds.

So he's more massive than Hewitt, byt those figures.

Chloe le Bopper 07-27-2002 05:01 PM

Correction - he's the same size as Hewitt but those figures.

Tryphon 07-27-2002 05:43 PM

For those not familiar with inches ;) the junior rankings have him listed at 1m78 so already taller than Grosjean... and still growing.

He has reached to final in Tampere, will be tested by Nieminen. :cool:

By the way Becca shouldn't you signature be like that: :eek:
or is that a deliberate choice to avoid scaring us? :D

Chloe le Bopper 07-27-2002 05:49 PM

I was wondering when someone would notice :eek:

Thats my pic ;)

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