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From http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/07/1041566407441.html

Richard Gasquet, the 16-year-old with the grace of the classic French player, is playing at Kooyong this week and has a wildcard to next week's Australian Open. Jake Niall reports.

It does not take a tennis degree to guess that Richard Gasquet could be special.

He has, as his coach put it, "no bad shots" and plenty of good ones.

As the most advanced 16-year-old in the game, he invites comparisons with the other greats who managed outlandish feats in their teens.

Boris Becker, winner of Wimbledon at 17, is usually the benchmark for European prodigies.

Gunter Bosch, the man who coached Becker in those early years, once cast his expert eye on the French kid and predicted he would become Gasquet the Great, "because he can read the game".

Bosch, though, added an amusing qualification: "It is best to reserve judgment for a while because two tests await: his first car and his first girlfriend. After that, we will have a better idea."

Gasquet could be the next Becker or Lleyton Hewitt, but we cannot dismiss the possibility - however slim - that he might be the next Aaron Krickstein.

If you have forgotten Krickstein, he was, at 16 years and two months, the youngest tournament winner in ATP history, but like Shirley Temple and the wisecracking kid from Different Strokes never made the leap from child stardom.

To see Gasquet play, however, is to be a believer.

He has the fluent ground strokes and grace of the classic French player.

His backhand is an elegant one-hander and when he hits it, you wonder if those clumsy two-handers should be banned on aesthetic grounds.

Whenever a great talent appears, we look for a reference point.

The boy Becker was compared to Lew Hoad.

Hewitt was - wrongly - hailed as the new Michael Chang (both dogged little guys). He turned out to be much better than that.

To some excited Frenchmen, Gasquet is nothing so mundane as mere tennis player.

A French Tennis Federation official told London's Observer newspaper that Gasquet was like Mozart.

His Federation-appointed coach, Eric Winogradsky, struggled to find a tennis resemblence.

"It's difficult because he's able to play on every surface."

What about Roger Federer? "I think he'll be more powerful than Federer.

"I don't know. If you ask him, 'Who do you want to look like?', there is no special answer."

Gasquet does not say much. That he barely speaks English does not help, but he is reticent in his native tongue, too.

Winogradsky said Gasquet finds the study of English boring.

The best incentive for improving his English, according to the coach, was that it would help him meet girls.

Gasquet is the son of a tennis coach, from a small town in the south of France.

The family has moved to Paris to allow him to flourish at the French Tennis Federation, his father Francis having been hired as a junior coach with the paternal federation.

His mother, Maryse, and Winogradsky are accompanying him on this trip to Australia, and he is playing at Kooyong this week before next week's wildcard into the Australian Open.

Granted a wildcard into the French Open last year, he took a set from eventual champion Albert Costa in the first round.

His defeat of Franco Squillari in Monte Carlo last March made him the youngest winner of a Masters series match.

In the same week, he beat two other top-100 players, Nikolay Davydenko (winner of Sunday's Adelaide final) and Adrian Voinea. All before his 16th birthday.

Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald notes that Gasquet's strength is from the backcourt.

"But he also plays pretty well under pressure, too. He comes up with some good shots when he really needs to, that's a sign of a guy who's pretty good, I think."

Winogradsky, who is employed by the federation as full-time mentor for Gasquet, says the kid will, in due course, become an all-court player.

"I'm sure in the next two or three years, he'll be a complete player ... He's already able to come to the net - it's a matter of confidence."

Gasquet is 182 centimetres, with perhaps a centimetre or two of growth remaining.

Wingradsky says size will not be a problem.

"He's powerful and I don't think serve will be a problem for him."

It's enough to say he has the tools. But does he have the temperament?

Hewitt's ascension and superiority to uber-talents such as Federer and Marat Safin suggests that mental strength is paramount.

Winogradsky thinks Gasquet has the right mind.

For one, he is utterly unaffected by the escalating French fuss and hype.

"He's a simple guy and it's not a problem for him. He hates to get, what you call 'the big head'."

As custodian of France's sun king, the coach is aware that the kid cannot be pushed too hard.

"First of all, we have to be very careful. He's young, he just started working as hard as a real professional. He has to get used to it first, then of course he has to enjoy the thing, because he likes to play ... we have to keep him feeling that he's still enjoying it."

It's a very Gallic notion. Enjoy it and you will prosper.
 

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I would like to see him play one day after all I've read about him. Today he beat Younes el Aynaoui, that's his best victory so far.
 

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Nice that people is saying he's pretty good, but I just hope he doesn't feel with pressure to be the next "superstar".
I think there are lots of hopes on him, I hope he won't disappoint us.
He's just 16, everything must be at the right time.

GO RICHARD!
 

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He's very down to earth and very shy. He's only 16 and gets a lot of attention, but takes it well. He doesn't have any star illusions. If you're interested in Gasquet you should join his yahoo group.
 

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Think he has taken a step in the right direction today vs Agassi.
He said he was nervous at the beginning, & so lost the 1st set 6/2, but then proceeded to win the next 7/5 & then only lost the 3rd by the same score.
As I wanted Andre in the final, was happy with that result, but also pleased to Gasquet as he showed he can compete with the best.
 

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He can compete with the big boys, he has shown that. But can he keep it up for a long time, cause physically he might not be there yet. Week in week out best of 3 sets. It's harder than with juniors.
 
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