June 19, 2021
Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal

Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal photo:twitter.com/RMCsport/

Richard Gasquet vs Rafael Nadal – 16 intense matches in their rivalry

Sixteen years after their first duel here, Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal will meet in the second round of Roland Garros. The day of the 35 years of the Spaniard.

It was May 27, 2005. On that day, Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet, two of the world’s most promising tennis stars, both not even 19 years old, faced each other for the first time in their careers at Roland Garros, in the third round.

Spaniard easily beat his French opponent 6/4, 6/3, 6/2. Then he went on to win his first French Open title.

Moments of Rivalry

Frenchman recalled his thought:

“I remember it very well, it was 33 degrees and when I left the court, I immediately said to my father: “no doubt, he is the future winner of the tournament. He was already an extraterrestrial. I knew that from then on, it was going to be anything on clay…”
Richard Gasquet

Nadal now leading 16-0 in his head-to-head with the Frenchman, the two men have sealed their reunion: it will be on Thursday, June 3.

“We’ve both had very good and long careers and it’s nice to meet again at this point in our careers. Especially in a place like this, which is so important for both of us,” commented the Majorcan.

Richard Gasquet has quietly disposed of his compatriot Hugo Gaston, the revelation of the 2020 edition but this time clearly dominated (6/1, 6/4, 6/2).

It was a little more complicated for Nadal who had a tricky start against Alexei Popyrin, who “lost” two third set points at 5-3 on his serve (double fault and smash) before giving in. The young Australian just missed the opportunity to become the third player to take (at least) a set from Nadal in the first round of the French Open, after John Isner in 2011 and Daniel Brands in 2013.

Gasquet hasn’t taken a set from Nadal since the quarterfinals of the 2008 Toronto Masters 1000. Since then, he has lost 28 in a row against the one with whom he remains (nevertheless) very good friends, but who has always bothered him considerably with the power of his lift, especially on his backhand. “My strength against 90% of the players is the backhand diagonal. Against him, who is left-handed, with his curved trajectories, it’s a strength that cancels itself out. It’s not the only one of course, but it’s one of the main problems I have against him,” he continued.

The last time the two former teenage prodigies, now adults still in love with tennis, faced each other was at the French Open in 2018, in the third round. Nadal won 6/3, 6/2, 6/2. It is an understatement to say that Gasquet, who has been struggling physically in recent months, will not be the favorite for this reunion. At least he will be able to approach them in a relaxed manner.

Nadal is the only big player I’ve never beaten, it’s a frustration in my career,” said the Frenchman. Three years ago, I didn’t play well and I was frustrated. Now, I want to play a good match, to feel that I am back to a good level, in short to enjoy it.”

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