French hoping for second coming of Gasquet

Updated: 20 May 2011 18:00 IST

It has been a long and hard road back to form for Richard Gasquet, but once again this year he enters the French Open as the flag-bearer of home hopes.

French hoping for second coming of Gasquet
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Paris:

It has been a long and hard road back to form for Richard Gasquet, but once again this year he enters the French Open as the flag-bearer of home hopes.

That stems from his top performance at the Rome Masters earlier this month where he defeated Roger Federer and Thomas Berdych before stretching Rafael Nadal in the semi finals.

With Gael Monfils battling injuries and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon never entirely at home on clay, Gasquet has suddenly emerged as the player seen as most likely to emulate Yannick Noah, the last Frenchman to win at Roland Garros in 1983.

It's all a long way since he was plunged into the depths of despair two years ago after testing positive for cocaine following a visit to a Miami nightclub.

The Frenchman's defense that the traces of cocaine found in his system must have come from his kissing a girl at the party was eventually accepted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport but the damage was done and Gasquet tumbled down the world rankings to 86th.

Gradually he has worked his way back firstly with the aid of then coach Eric Deblicker and then with some words of wisdom from retired former French Open semi finalist Sebastien Grosjean who has joined his staff.

Still, former boy-wonder Gasquet is reluctant to see himself once again put up on a pedestal at Roland Garros, knowing that his record in the tournament to date is abysmal.

"It's ups and downs and ups and downs all the time. It's normal, you know," he said.

"If I happen to be defeated by (Radek) Stepanek (in first round), I'm not going to be that much covered by the media."

"But if I win again, you know, I'm not asking myself these types of questions. I'll try and do what I can little by little. I'll try and not think about this."

"I want to enjoy it, enjoy playing on the court, which is what I did in Rome, and this is when I was playing well."

Helping his case may be the fact that coming into Roland Garros this year he has played fewer tournaments and matches than at the same time last year when he lost in the first round to Andy Murray.

And it could just be that with his 25th birthday falling on June 18, Gasquet could be reaching a new maturity in his life and tennis game.

That is what France's top coach Patrice Hagelauer believes saying: "Richard is going to be a late developer just like Guy Forget who had his best season when he was 27."

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