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Richard Gasquet faces Lloyd Harris in the Roland Garros opening round.

Realist Gasquet Playing 19th Roland Garros: 'I’m Still Motivated To Do My Best'

Frenchman notched season-best result by reaching Geneva semi-finals

Richard Gasquet started his professional career in 2002 by becoming the youngest match-winner since the formation of the ATP Tour in 1990, qualifying and earning a main-draw win in Monte Carlo at age 15.

More than 20 years later, he holds a 573-355 record as one of the veterans of the game. His 573 match wins are the most of any Frenchman in the Open Era and have helped him to 15 tour-level titles and 17 additional finals.

But the 35-year-old is realistic about the fact that his best tennis may be behind him.

“My best tennis would be difficult,” he said, speaking to ATPTour.com at Indian Wells. “I was No. 7 in the world. It would be very difficult for me to come back to Top 10, even Top 20. But I just want to enjoy it, to be good on court… to have strength, to be free of injuries.”

Gasquet will enter Roland Garros at No. 70 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, and has not been inside the Top 50 in more than a year. He was last in the Top 30 in 2019, and reached his career-high of No. 7 in 2007.

While he may not expect to get back to that lofty position, he has proven his ability to beat players at the top of the game.

He enters Roland Garros on the heels of his deepest tournament run of the 2022 season — a semi-final showing in Geneva. Gasquet defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets on his way to the last four, earning the second victory of his career against a top two opponent (He defeated then-World No. 1 Roger Federer in a third-set tie-break in Rome in 2011.).

“Of course I’m sure I can win many great matches,” he said. “I did against top players, even Top 10, winning tough matches and playing well.

“But I’m 36 this year, so it gets more and more difficult. I just want to enjoy it and try my best to go forward.”

A three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, Gasquet has reached four ATP Tour quarter-finals in 2022, including three on clay. In addition to his win over Medvedev, he has three Top-40 victories on the year, beating Ugo Humbert in consecutive events (Australian Open, Montpellier) and Tommy Paul in Estoril. He also took eventual champion and World No. 7 Andrey Rublev to a third-set tie-break in Marseille.

The Frenchman has worked to play more aggressive tennis in order to stay competitive in his mid-30s.

“I’m trying to develop my game to play more offensive. Sometimes it’s not so easy,” he said. “[I’m also trying] to serve better. I think the serve is the key for tennis.”

Gasquet will face South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in the Roland Garros first round, and could meet 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the third round. The young Spaniard beat him in the Umag final last July to claim his first ATP Tour title.

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But two fellow 30-somethings remain among the favourites to win this year’s men’s singles crown in Paris: defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time champ Rafael Nadal.

“Of course it’s an inspiration, but nobody can compare with Nadal, with Federer,” Gasquet said, discussing the recent success of his contemporaries. “These are the best players in the history of tennis, so it’s really tough for me to compare myself with these kinds of guys.”

For Gasquet, his goals for his home-nation major are simple. In his 19th Roland Garros, he’s not necessarily looking to improve upon his best run to the 2016 quarter-finals.

“Just to play my best, to have fun on the court, to feel some great things on the court — especially in big tournaments like Roland Garros, big stages,” Gasquet said of his late-career targets.

“I’m still motivated to play… I’m still motivated to do my best to be still on top.”

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