Richard Gasquet: 3 minutes to better know “The Virtuoso”
Meet the backhand. If ever one man could be defined by one shot it’s Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman whose backhand has lit up the ATP Tour for almost two decades.
Born in Béziers, France, Gasquet was a junior prodigy. At the age of nine, he was hailed as a future champion by Tennis Magazine in France. A junior world No 1 at 16, he beat then world No 1 Roger Federer in Monte Carlo when he was just 17, prompting many to single him out as a future Grand Slam winner.
If he never quite lived up to those lofty expectations, Gasquet and his wondrous backhand have won 15 ATP titles plus the Davis Cup and he has drawn gasps from crowds around the world. At 34, with a wealth of experience, he is The Virtuoso at Ultimate Tennis Showdown and is ready to deliver.
“It’s been my best shot since I was a kid,” Gasquet says. “Most players start with two hands and then change to one hand when they are older. But at 5 or 6 I was already playing with that one-handed backhand…it’s a really natural shot.”
“He can make more winning moves with his one-handed backhand than most of the players,” Gasquet coach Julien Cassaigne says. “The game is focused on his backhand to make the opponent move. Cross-court ball, short ball, deep shot, and then he has this amazing down the line backhand. He can do anything.”
“He can really feel the ball,” Cassaigne says. “At 10 or 12, he played against 45-year-old men so he learnt how to play against any kind of game, any ball, and his ball control got better. He is someone who knows perfectly how tennis works, he plays chess like (Fabrice) Santoro or Gilles Simon. Every shot is well thought out.”
According to Cassaigne, his passion for the sport has not wavered, even after all these years and Gasquet is hoping to put on a show at UTS.
“I played many games on many surfaces around the world,” he said. “You know how to win a match, you know what can happen in a match, because you’ve been through this a hundred times. I hope to prove it here.”