ATP Tennis 360

April 14, 2010 5:42 PM

Gasquet, the Paperman

gasquet.jpg62 60 in 57 minutes. Just two games won against Tomas Berdich, all but an iron-minded player, is what remained of the baby prodigy once called "The new Noah" on the excessively optimistic cover of an old Tennis Magazine.

Semifinalist in Montecarlo in 2005, when he defeated His Highness Roger Federer, definitely in his career blockbuster, Gasquet became no more than a modern Henri Leconte, a bright exhibition player.

The handshaking that Berdych gave him after the humiliation was accompanied by an expression of dislike for the destruction he caused to the most fragile of talented players oncourt.

Eternal hope and despair of fans and coaches, he simply seems not to feel any pleasure in taking a racquet in hand and hitting yellow balls among the 24 angles of a tennis court.

With his Modigliani-style neck and a more than low center of mass (Rino Tommasi, a famous Italian tennis journalist, called him "a growth dwarf"), he has always been a handsome and squanderer champion, a divine masochistic blessed by a delicate backhand giving him a potentially absolute power.

Like the Austrian-jew football legend Mathias Sindelar, surnamed The Paper Man for his thinness,
they called Gasquet Mozart and made him a Paper Man in terms of self-confidence. For years Richard gave the sensation to play not to win but to please to himself. After mirroring himself in his unarrivable technical beauty he exited from the match.

Psychologically fragile, the least adversity suffice to make him lose the thread. The rumours - during the last Roland Garros - about his hypothetical homosexuality, linked to his relationship with Lagardere's son, didn't help him.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,french2.jpgAnd the "cocaine kiss" did even less to change things for a Baby who Had to Become a Champion and is now just a baby without more prodigies. Tired of battles and fights, at 25 years he seems a decadent veteran unwilling to repeat again and again a script someone prepared too early for him.

His isolated glimpse in Sydney earlier this season hasn't inverted the tendency. Gasquet, despite the new pair of coaches, remains a tactical disaster who hates himself so much to force himself to rowing meters behind the baseline on almost every surfaces.

Now, the thin guy from Beziers, the fragile guy who avoided fights in a town full of rugby players, gives the idea of an unstoppable surrender. His desire of being anywhere but in in this world emerges from every words and strokes.

The actual Richard, auto-lesionist and confused, capable of letting go the leg only when he's drowning, doesnt give any reason to be optimists.

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