Gasquet banks on new style of play at French

Richard Gasquet hopes tactical tweaks, improved fitness and 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, Gasquet 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.

Working with new coach Riccardo Piatti, the Frenchman said an

attacking mindset has helped produce wins against Federer, Albert

Montanes, Igor Andreev and Thomas Berdych.

”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 a bid to relaunch his career, 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 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 while

sitting out 2 1/2-months for a positive test for cocaine.

He successfully appealed, saying the drug inadvertently entered

his system when he kissed a woman at a nightclub.

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 top-ranked 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.”

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?”