Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Backhand compliment

I have two words for everyone in regard to Richard Gasquet this year:

Watch out.

I don't know what it is: the new coach he got after the French last year, not having to worry about Davis Cup, sessions with the world's best sports psychologists or what, but Gasquet has been on a mini-tear. Granted the season's only two weeks ago, but check out what's happened so far:

• He made the semis in Brisbane last week, beating everyone's (mine included) Most Likely French Player to Succeed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga along the way.

• He's made the quarters in Sydney. First up, he beat a player that he was 1-4 against in head-to-heads, defending champ Dmitry Tursunov. Then just today, he knocked off another compatriot, top tenner Gilles Simon.

Next up for him is yet another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, and you have to like his chances in that one. Regardless, though, it's a great start to the year for Gasquet: Two tournaments, two deep runs in two weeks.

Everyone knows he's one of the most talented, versatile players on tour. But everyone knows he's also one of the flakiest players out there. I know in my last post, I mentioned Dominik Hrbaty being named ATP Comeback Player of the Year because of his solid play at the Hopman Cup. But I'd like to take that back because I think Gasquet is due for big things this year.

Why am I even thinking of awards that are months away? I guess I'm psyched to see solid performances again from players who were in a rut, and seeing it be recognized and rewarded in the end.

(Photo: Reuters)


RiCH said...

I want to give love to the Frenchie headcase too but he always lets me down. Boo.

Has he turned a corner Van? Not sure, but not a bad start to the season either.

Fly Reeshard, fly!

van said...

Hey Rich. I know it's early in the season, but I almost think he has. I think the best win in the past two weeks has to be the one against Tursunov, who practically owned him. That has to have him brimming with confidence. I don't know if he'll "fly" on to a Slam final, but if he did, there'd be less shocking things in the world!

Shelia said...

Hi Van!

Great title. I totally agree. I thought that this surge was coming awhile before, hopefully it will pan out this time.

van said...

Hey Sheila, thanks! Yeah, it seemed like he started to snap out of his funk at Queen's last year, or at least there was a glimmer. Maybe it'll finally happen for him this year.

hcfoo said...

Hi Van! Richie has been making his presence significant for the past two weeks. I think he's mentally stronger this year and able to wrap up matches effectively. He's coming back to resume his role as French no.1.

TopSpin said...

Hello Van - hope you're well.

I feel about Reeshie the same way I do about Kuzzie: they've both got more talent than they know what to do with.

It's crunch time for Gasquet as far as I'm concerned. If he hasn't made a Masters final or Slam quarter (see I'm not making it too hard) by say, the end of Roland Garros Im going to pull the plug.

Has there ever been a greater disparity between talent and achievement? Oh wait a minute, Safin.

van said...

• Hey HCFoo. I think that could be the case, but it could be a battle with Monfils who's had a decent run this season, too. I'm worried about how Tsonga's going to hold up.

• Hey TopSpin. I agree; I definitely think Gasquet has to step it up now if he wants more from his career. There's a lot of guys his age who are doing and have done bigger things, and there are younger players coming up, too.

And yeah, I would say Safin should become a dictionary definition for the phrase, "disparity between talent and achievement."!