He was still eye-opening. At 36, Richard Gasquet seems to push the limits of time and distill beauty as if he were 20 years old. Thursday, on court 10 of the National Tennis Center, first bathed for a few games by a blazing sun, before being under the wind and a soft night shadow, as Richard Gasquet likes them, the Biterrois subdued the Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, 36th in the world, in four sets and a farandole of majestic blows (6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4).
Here is the Frenchman, 91st in the world, in the 3rd round of the US Open, as at Wimbledon two months earlier, waiting, perhaps, to meet the icon, Rafael Nadal for the 18th time in his career, he who has lost the previous 17 confrontations. “There is Gaël (Monfils) who is 18-0 against Djokovic. I was hoping to never play him again until the end of my career.”smiled Gasquet, at the exit of his success of the day. “No, honestly, it’s wonderful to be able to play it. If I play Nadal, it’s a reward for me to play him there, on the Central. It’s unexpected”he admitted finally.
I played tennis well. It was a big game, I hit well and served better than usual
It is still necessary that the Spaniard dominates, in night session Thursday the Italian Fabio Fognini so that the 18th duel takes place. In the meantime, Gasquet has done the job. And in a rather remarkable way, with a commitment, an offensive audacity, never denied. Carried by the wind and a very lively short 10, Richard Gasquet was on “his land”, in conditions he likes, and he took the first two sets with undeniable authority. “I was a little obligated. After the first round, I got sunstroke, in the evening I was dead and I didn’t eat for two days. Before the match, I had very bad feelings. When I entered the court, I said to myself really, I have to attack, that I manage to take the ball a little earlier. The speed of the court did me a lot of good, you felt like you were on grass a bit. I played tennis well. It was a big game, I hit well and served better than usual.”summed up the semi-finalist at the 2013 US Open.
And even when things got tense, when Kecmanovic clearly raised his level of play and his initiative in the third and fourth sets, Gasquet remained in contact, in the fight, distilling here a long line backhand chiselled at the fine gold or a small touch like a work of goldsmithery.
With 61 winning strokes in the end, Gasquet clearly went for the match, even if the Serb offered him, at the very end, the ultimate game on four unforced errors. “It’s a big win for me”summed up the Frenchman who, at 36, continues to delight his world and has no desire to sound the end clap.