Gasquet banks on new style of play at French
Richard Gasquet hopes some tactical tweaks, his improved fitness, and maybe a lucky red shirt will help him go deep at the French Open this year.
Fresh from a win over Roger Federer at the Rome Masters last week, the former world No. 7 will start his campaign at his home Grand Slam tournament against Radek Stepanek, an opponent he hasn't beaten in two meetings.
The 13th-seeded Gasquet said Friday he is ready to play more attacking tennis on the Roland Garros red clay where he has never advanced past the third round.
Now working with new coach Riccardo Piatti, the Frenchman said that the encouraging string of results which saw him beat Albert Montanes, Igor Andreev, Federer, and Thomas Berdych in Italy resulted from a more attacking mindset.
''Sometimes I play less well, so I play behind the baseline,'' Gasquet said. ''It's not really my best type of tennis, but sometimes I don't feel my shots are good enough. It's not the best solution, so I try to move forward to the net so that I can have more winners.''
In his bid to relaunch his career, the 13th-seeded Gasquet also hired former French player Sebastien Grosjean, whose attacking style helped him reach the semifinals at three different Grand Slams.
''With Sebastien as well I feel good,'' Gasquet said. ''And I play better, I think. Now time is flying by and I've gained experience. I'll try and continue on the same tracks. In the future, this is the type of style I need to have. To move forward is what I need to do, to move into the court.''
Regarded as a potential world No. 1 when he turned professional nine years ago, Gasquet has struggled to live up to expectations. His career hit a low in 2009 when he missed the French Open after serving a a 2 1/2-month suspension for a positive test for cocaine.
But the 24-year-old Gasquet seems to be on his way back. He reached 14th this week for his best ATP ranking since October 2008. In Rome, only world No. 1 Rafael Nadal was able to stop him, in the semifinals.
Gasquet is adamant he has the weapons to compete with players from the Top 10 but acknowledges he need to find better consistency to close the gap with the best.
''You have to do the same all the time for all the matches,'' Gasquet said. ''This is what they manage to do. This is what I will try and manage to do. I didn't play that bad since the beginning of the season. I have to try and continue this way.''
Last year in Paris, Gasquet lost in the first round after running out of steam and squandering a two-set lead over Andy Murray.
''I think this year I would have beaten him,'' Gasquet said. ''I play better, that's true. Last year I was tired. This time it's OK. I played well in Rome, I could rest for a week and practice, as well.''
Known for being superstitious, Gasquet said he may well wear the red shirt he donned when he beat Federer in Italy.
''I try not to think about these things, the lucky charms,'' Gasquet said. ''I played with it for a while, that's true. Maybe I will continue. Why not?''