Dubai: Richard Gasquet, the outstanding but unfulfilled talent whom many still regard as capable of reaching the top, returned to the ATP Tour after three weeks out with an encouraging win and help from his mother here on Monday.
The 24-year-old Frenchman survived several second set mini-crises against Grigor Dimitrov, the former Wimbledon and US Open junior champion, to reach the second round of the $1,600,000 Dubai Open with a 6-2, 6-4 win.
Even more important Gasquet felt little discomfort from the injured shoulder which has caused him to take a break since retiring after only seven games of the Zagreb indoor tournament at the end of last month.
"I had a pain in my shoulder, so I didn't practise a lot," the former world number seven admitted.
"I'm happy because I hadn't a lot of problems today. I could serve a hundred percent. That's the most important for me."
It was important in the short term too. The dangerous Dimitrov, whose ball-striking abilities are arguably the equal of anyone on the tour, had a break point in the second game of the second set, and two more in the fourth game.
Had the 19-year-old Bulgarian converted any of those it might have triggered a surge of confidence which would have turned the match around.
But Gasquet came up with a brilliant backhand pass even though Dimitrov got to the net in a decent position on the first of the crises, and came up with winning first serves on the other two.
Asked what it would take for him to get on terms with Roger Federer, whom he once beat, or Rafa Nadal, he replied: "To be healthy for sure, because I have some problems last year in the back, this year a little bit in the shoulder.
"I know I can beat a lot of good guys, but I need to play matches for sure, to be healthy, and to play, play, play tournaments, and take confidence.
"Anyway, I will see if I can come back again in the top ten. I don't know, but I try my best."
Gasquet will continue with Sebastien Grosjean as coach in Indian Wells and Miami next month, and later in the year will team up with Riccardo Piatti, the Italian coach who has worked for a long time with Ivan Ljubicic.
Here he has neither, but is accompanied by mother Maryse. What does she tell him, he was asked.
"Not to be not frustrated, because sometimes I can show a lot, a lot of frustration," Gasquet answered rather honestly. "And she doesn't like it."