Richard Gasquet, from ‘Petit Mozart’ to French fan favourite
Richard Gasquet is the defending champion of the European Open. The 31-year-old Frenchman has been part of the world’s elite for 15 years and is one of the most spectacular players on the tour.
Richard Gasquet grew up in Sérignan, a town in the Hérault close to Béziers. As a four-year-old toddler he started playing tennis in the club of his father Francis, who would guide him as his coach until the age of 15. The Gasquets are a real tennis family as mother Maryse is a coach as well.
In the junior categories Richard was quickly the best player of his age groups. That earned him the nickname ‘Petit Mozart du tennis français’, the little Mozart of French tennis. As a nine-year-old boy Richard already made it to the front page of Tennis Magazine.
15 YEARS, 11 MONTHS AND 9 DAYS
2002 was a milestone in the tennis life of Richard Gasquet. That year he won the junior title at Roland Garros and at the US Open, but at the same time he also made his professional debut. At the age of 15 years, 11 months and 9 days he became the second youngest player ever on the main draw of Roland Garros. In his debut match Gasquet took a set from defending champion Albert Costa.
One year later the then 17-year-old Gasquet already made it into the world's top 100, the youngest player ever to do so. Metz 2003 was his first ATP tournament final. A year later Gasquet won the mixed doubles tournament of Roland Garros alongside Tatiana Golovin.
GORGEOUS ONE-HANDED BACKHAND
Gasquet won his first ATP title in 2005 in Nottingham and two years later he broke into the world’s top 10. Little by little ‘Petit Mozart’ became ‘Grand Mozart’. Unfortunately his beautiful tennis symphonies - he has the most accomplished one-handed backhand on the tour - were often interrupted by injuries or illness.
Gasquet reached the Roland Gasquet quarter-finals in 2016, two semi-finals at Wimbledon (2007 and 2015) and a semi-final at the US Open (2013), but never made that final step. Still, the Frenchman is a massively talented player who can compete with the Federers and Nadals of this world.
14 ATP TITLES
15 years after his professional debut Richard Gasquet is still a crowd favourite. On his roll of honour he holds an Olympic bronze medal from the 2012 London Olympics (men’s double with Julien Benneteau) and 14 ATP titles. All his titles were won in the ATP World Tour 250 Series.
As far as we’re concerned, his last tournament win was the best one: at the European Open! A mercurial Gasquet beat the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman with 7-6 and 6-1. Now he’s looking for title number 15: the Lotto Arena is looking forward to another masterclass by ‘Petit Mozart’!