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A title on grass, shortly after on clay, then on carpet, then a title on hard court before another on clay. From beating the best in game in his peak in a tense 3-set clay-court triller on the mesmerizing Monte-Carlo courts, to losing to Oliver Rochus on a hard-court.

As you can see, consistency is not a trait Richard Gasquet has had in his career – he has won titles on all surfaces, showing his all-court game and a natural talent for having the footwork required on every surface (something better players, such as Nikolay Davydenko, Juan Martin Del Potro, or even Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal to some extent have had problems with in different surfaces, but not Gasquet). Natural talent is hard to define and it’s a touchy issue among many people, especially fans of a sport – many fans have bias to watching a sport more often than normal bystanders and such feel their opinion on topics such as natural talent, which is a topic that is determined by opinion and value judgements, is more important; when it’s clearly not, thus it is very hard to define what natural talent is, but if there is ever a case, Richard Gasquet is a fine example of a player who has it, a backhand that is technically perfect (perhaps only Kuerten has a better topspin backhand), good variety of being able to play aggressively, defensively, come in to the net, great footwork and movement, a surprisingly underrated serve. All these good assets are undone by a poor forehand and a poor attitude, perhaps a “lack of mental strength” as some commentators would say.

Gasquet is slowly climbing up the rankings; from 85 in the world last year to 21 in the world this week, with a decent showing at the Australian Open and a good Dubai tournament behind him, he can look forward to a season which should allow him to enter the Top 15 and with some ambition and perhaps luck, Top 15 isn’t a stretch too far for Gasquet – it is just a question of his attitude, preparation and his forehand/serve.

A note on Gasquet’s recent technical play has been just how far he is standing behind the court when returning; it’s not a bad tactic, but Gasquet’s style of play, and his returning positions from 2005, 2006 and 2007, is suited to being much higher up the court; he possesses a great backhand return; but why does he not utilise it enough? In the recent match vs Simon in Dubai, Gasquet stood very far behind the baseline in the first set, losing 5-7 for reasons more than just his return of serve position, he moved up the court slightly for the second and third set and won 6-2 6-4 with a more comfortable, attacking style of tennis. It is fundamental Gasquet’s return position isn’t deep; he’s a better aggressor than defender, his ability to pick spots out with his backhand is a briliant feature of his game, by returning very deep he’s going to be hitting a lot of defensive cross-court rallies to get control of rallies, something that Gasquet isn’t bad at – but isn’t a more efficient option compared to the former.

Gasquet has started working part-time with Sebastian Grosjean this year, a player known for possessing a good forehand, his forehand shows no sign of improvement at this moment, but with time and training, even an experienced professional like Gasquet, who doesn’t have a limit of technical ability on his style of play, unlike Andy Murray for example, can perhaps fix his forehand, start having a more confident out-look, showing more maturity and start building on that sole Semi Final at Wimbledon 2007 where the world had the delight of watching a very talented player, one with huge potential.

Or nothing could happen. You just don’t know with Gasquet.

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One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By What To Expect in 2013 « Tennis Analysis on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:40 am

    […] to look out for: Richard Gasquet is moving forward too. I predicted his progress two years ago after a cocaine incident. Recently, Gasquet won Doha in an impressive manner – he had a very […]

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