Richard Gasquet: “It’s always unclear when you stop”

A beautiful atmosphere to end a desert-like day. A tennis desert, with the rain which deprived Roland-Garros of a tempting Wednesday. A human desert, too, on the Philippe-Chatrier court with these boxes still so empty and this somewhat hollow atmosphere noted by Caroline Garcia earlier in the afternoon. For the night session, none of that. Songs, a blue stand determined to encourage Richard Gasquet as much as possible in his impossible mission and tennis brilliance from the Frenchman which even impressed Jannik Sinner.

The outcome of this 2nd round seemed written in advance but Richard the Lionheart did not want to give in. If he did it, it was in the face of evidence of opposing superiority (6-4, 6-2, 6-4). Gasquet will remember this evening fondly. The joys of the night session on the Central are not that common. “There were beautiful emotionshe explained. It’s nice to play in the evening. There were quite a few people there, it was the first time I saw the court in the evening. It was nice to play.

Did he have a little pang in his heart when leaving the court? At almost 38 years old, while he is fighting to regain his place in the Top 100 and only the love of the game still keeps him moving forward, it would have been logical. But, like many others recently, including the King of Paris, Gasquet has not decided. Or rather: Gasquet still leaves himself time to decide. Will the 2025 edition take place with him?

Veterans’ overtime has a logic

I don’t knowhe admitted at the outset. I don’t have an answer beyond that. I take it month by month. It’s hard to know, it’s always unclear when you stop. I do not know exactly. I’m already trying to see, to go higher in the first 100. Afterwards, we’ll see if it’s next year. I’ve no idea. Obviously, the more it goes on, the more things happen, but I can’t answer that. It’s good to win a match here, it’s good for the future, but you don’t know how you’re going to play. If you have an injury. Everything is possible.”

This answer is perhaps hard to hear but perfectly sums up the state of mind of these veterans who work overtime on the circuit in search of thrills and great fights rather than to relish past triumphs. Nadal is not the only one: Stan Wawrinka, eliminated a few minutes after Gasquet, Andy Murray, Fabio Fognini and Gaël Monfils are putting up resistance. Because they know they are capable of accomplishing something, whether it is winning a tournament, enjoying the thrill of a thrilling Grand Slam match or simply enjoying battling it out with the Next Next Gen.

At Roland, in 2024, Gasquet simply won a Grand Slam match. A banality given his total in the exercise? No, this 116th victory in a Major, obtained against Borna Coric on “his” Suzanne-Lenglen, is precious, because it is rare: “I hadn’t won a Grand Slam match for some time (US Open 2022, Editor’s note). Last year, I did 4 days, also in Australia. It’s nice to win this match, to be able to play in the center, it was fabulous, with all this audience against the world number 2. It’s great. I hope I can continue to play a little bit more at this level.”

Richard Gasquet against Jannik Sinner in the 2nd round of Roland-Garros, May 29, 2024.

Credit: Getty Images

If I lose three times in a row on the grass…

This level, even Sinner pointed out afterwards, is worth pushing a little further. Yes, in one match, one week, Gasquet can still deliver very high level tennis. The problem is to continue. This was already the case before, it is even more so now. “The end, you don’t know exactly if it’s there, at Bercy, next year, here, or beforehe continued. I find it hard to know myself. Afterwards, when you lose 2-3 matches, you say you’re stopping, a week later it’s over. There you win a match, you say to yourself: we’re going to try to continue a little bit. If I lose three times in a row on grass… It’s ups and downs. You never know exactly.”

So, Gasquet to Roland, it may be over. Or maybe not. The epicurean that he is will continue as long as the pleasure is there. But also as long as the level is there. Until when ? It’s a popular question around Porte d’Auteuil. But she still hasn’t found a concrete answer, and that’s a good thing.

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