Richard Gasquet, the world top ten’s biggest enigma, is seeking a platform during the next six days for the Grand Slam success that his undoubted ability warrants in the new season which starts on Monday.
Following the late withdrawal of Rafael Nadal, the 26-year-old Switzerland-based Frenchman is seeded to reach the final of the Qatar Open and sees that as an important platform for a flying start to 2013.
Gasquet’s two-thirds match winning ratio of last year is a respectable but not a fulfilling statistic for a man with such a sublimely gifted game at his best – and that is an assessment with which he appears to agree.
“This year I want to play better against those guys, and why not to win them and go farther in Grand Slam?”
“I want to play better in Grand Slams. I did fourth rounds this year, so I’m sure I can do better again,” said Gasquet who hopes to make at least the quarter-finals of the 2013 Australian Open which begins in Melbourne in two weeks time.
It is one of the tour’s curiosities that it is fully five and half years since Gasquet’s best Grand Slam performance, a semi-final on the grass at Wimbledon.
Asked why this was so, he replied: “I think I can play on every surface, every court. Last year I played well in Wimbledon too.
“As I said, a lot of fourth rounds last year, lost to Murray, against the best player in the world. This year I want to play better against those guys, and why not to win them and go farther in Grand Slam?”
One evident way by which Gasquet has for some time been trying to do that is controlling and re-directing the strong emotions which both fuels and sometimes erodes his classically fluent style.
“Yeah, it’s important to have a big mental side,” he agreed.
“You know, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal have an incredible mental part. I try to reach that level. It’s tough, but for sure when you want to win these kind of matches, you need to have a big mental (side).”
Gasquet also said: “I think I finish at number ten in the world, so I’m sure I can go farther. I’m not sure about the top five though – it’s tough. There are good players between five and ten, but I’m able to do it.”
One of those in the top five is David Ferrer, who is top seed this week, and who during the prolonged absence of Rafa Nadal last year was voted the Spanish player of the year by tennis writers.
Ferrer, who beat Gasquet in last year’s US Open, is the man whom the Frenchman should meet in next Saturday’s final, although both have to clear significant hurdles before they can.
Ferrer may have a semi-final with either his compatriot Feliciano Lopez or Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, both former top 20 players who have done well previously in the Middle East.
Gasquet meanwhile may need to beware a quarter-final with Viktor Troicki, the Serbian who reached world number 12 last year, and could have a semi-final with Jeremy Chardy, his fellow Frenchman who reached the top 30 in September and hopes to break into the top 20 during the new year.