Early sleep, training sets and a lot of cards: aged 36, Richard Gasquet’s recipe for longevity

“There’s not a minute when I’m not doing something related to tennis,” Richard Gasquet told Tennis Majors to explain why he’s still so competitive at the age of 36

Richard Gasquet Richard Gasquet (Fra) in action against Jannik Sinner at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells (Antoine Couvercelle/Panoramic)

At the time of writing, Richard Gasquet is ranked 40th in the world. He won Auckland at the beginning of the season and will play the second round of the Miami Open against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

If he had been told this last year – or two or three years ago – he probably wouldn’t have believed the first two statements. The last one always seemed within his reach, but what changes, compared to the two previous seasons, is that we feel the Frenchman is capable of winning these kinds of matches again.

Gasquet owes his renewed form, whether unexpected or not, to a professionalism that he has never let slip: “I think about tennis 24 hours a day, there’s not a minute when I’m not doing something related to tennis,” he commented after his three-set victory over Christopher O’Connell (6-4, 3-6, 6-1) in his Miami opener.

“I need it to be good. Diet-wise I’m always careful, but I could always do better. I drink a little bit of Coke in Paris but I try to be careful. I indulge in a little bit of food every now and then or else I explode, but not that much. I don’t have a choice (to have this work ethic).”

The Frenchman had not won a match in Indian Wells and Miami since 2018 – but this was the 596th victory of his career.

Gasquet’s carefully-calculated training sessions

Before arriving in Miami, Gasquet went through the Challenger in Phoenix, where he faced some big names such as Matteo Berrettini, Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Bublik. The Frenchman lost in the round of 16 to the American Aleksandar Kovacevic, which reminds him how much care he must take between two tournaments and travel.

“I arrived from Phoenix, on Saturday. I didn’t play the next day, 45 minutes on Monday, 50 minutes on Tuesday. I hardly play between tournaments because as soon as I travel, it takes me three days to recover. When I travel, the next day I can’t do anything, so I try to be smart.”

More generally, he organises his training sessions in the same way, knowing his body perfectly since his professional debut in 2002, 21 years ago: “I have almost never played so much on the Tour, even when I am in Paris at the National center, I try to train but not too much either. I warm up for a good 45 minutes and then I play, but I play my heart out. At Roland-Garros I play against good young guys like Arthur Cazaux (218th in the world), with Gabriel Debru (501st in the world) and I play quality sets but never too much more than two hours.”

Gasquet’s routine away from tennis

A soccer fan, which he has always enjoyed playing, Richard Gasquet has understood as he closes in on his 37th birthday that certain hobbies must take a back seat: “I don’t play golf or soccer, I sleep early in the afternoon, I play cards, four hours of cards,” he laughed. “I go to the movies in the evening and then I sleep. Tennis is not going to last forever, but I’ve had fun this year.”

His biggest fans are also having fun watching him. By the end of March they had already seen him play in nine different tournaments this year. In 2022, at this time of the season, he had played six. In 2021, only three.

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