Gasquet Defeats Countryman Chardy To Lift 15th Title
The 31-year-old, competing in his second final of the season after a runner-up finish at the Open Sud de France, secured his first tournament victory since the 2016 European Open in 90 minutes. Gasquet, now 15-15 in championship matches on the ATP World Tour, saved two set points at 5-4 (40/15) in the second set before snapping Chardy's nine-match winning streak.
"It is great to win a title again," said Gasquet. "It [has been] two years that I didn't win. It is my 15th [title], so it is unusual. It is very tough to win on the ATP World Tour... I am very happy to win here, it is a great tournament and I am very proud about [winning] it."
Chardy was bidding to win back-to-back titles after lifting the Surbiton Trophy on the ATP Challenger Tour last week. "I started my grass-court season really well with two really good weeks, said Chardy. "The first tournament [in Surbiton] I won and [I reached] another final this week, so [it is] a lot of confidence for me."
Gasquet has now won three of his 15 tour-level titles on grass, ending a 12-year wait after winning his opening crowns on the surface in Nottingham (2005-2006).
The second seed now leads Chardy 5-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with a 2-1 record this season after splitting encounters at ATP World Tour Masters 1000-level in Miami and Monte Carlo.
"It is never easy playing a friend but we are used to playing a lot of French players throughout the year. Of course it is not my first time, but it is never easy," said Gasquet.
After trading breaks in the sixth and seventh games of the opening set, Gasquet made the crucial move at 4-3. The Open Sud de France finalist hit back-to-back forehand winners to open the game, before clinching the break, after great court coverage, with a flicked backhand passing shot.
Chardy appeared to be taking the match to a third set, when he secured the first break of the second set to lead 5-3. But the second seed held his nerve, saving two consecutive set points, with aggression on his backhand side, before levelling the set and forcing a tie-break.
Both players struggled to hold serve under the pressure of a tie-break, with seven mini-breaks in the first nine points handing Gasquet two service points to seal the win at 5/4. A confident ace down the T earned Gasquet two points for the title, and although Chardy gave himself a lifeline with a forehand winner, he could not handle a low, sharp-angled forehand from Gasquet on the second championship point.
"I am really happy with my match today. I think I played a good match from the beginning to the end but Richard was just a little bit better than me, he deserved to win," reflected Chardy.
The 15-time tour-level titlist is projected to rise to No. 25 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, his highest position since 11 June last year. He will receive 250 ATP Ranking points and collect €109,310 for lifting the trophy. Chardy gains 150 points and receives €57,570.
Did You Know?
Richard Gasquet is the fourth Frenchman to win the Libema Open. The World No. 30 joins countrymen Arnaud Boetsch (1993), Michael Llodra (2004) and three-time champion Nicolas Mahut (2013, 2015-2016).