Baby Federer

Full Name: Richard Gabriel Cyr Gasquet

Birth Date: 18 June 1986

Place of Birth: France

Playing Years: 2001 to present

Awards: Olympic Games Bronze Medal (2012)

Formative Years and Professional Career

To hold the racket and excel in doing so seemed to be  Richard Gasquet’s ultimate destiny. He was on the cover of the french Tennis Magazine at a very young age of 9, and touted as an extremely promising prospect. When he was 18, he beat world’s number 1 Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Masters Series, thus, he got the moniker ‘Baby Federer.’

Commenced playing as senior at a very young age of 15, Gasquet made major feats at such an early stage in his career. In April 2002, he debuted on the ATP where he became the youngest player ever to qualify for a Tennis Masters Series tournament. In the tournament, he defeated Argentina’s Franco Squillari in the first round, becoming the youngest player to achieve victory in a top-tier tour. At the same age, he made his debut in the Gram Slam tournament in the 2002 French Open, where he managed to take a set off Spain’s Albest Costa in the first round. Gasquet was eventually named World Junior Champion, after finishing the 2002 French Open as No. 1 in the junior world. He was the youngest player to make it to the top 200 in the ATP year-end. Likewise, he scored a bronze medal in Men’s Doubles during the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

As Gasquet’s career progresses, he made several other major achievements. In two consecutive years from 2005 to 2006, he finished as France’s No. 1 and qualified for the Top 20 year-end ranking. He got to the Top 10 in 2007 with his 49th match and fifth ATP title, reaching two finals. In the same year, he was the first Frenchman to step on the Tennis Masters cup since Sebastien Grosjean. With no ATP title brought home, Gasquet only went to the Top 25 the following year. In 2009, he fell much lower to the Top 50.

In May 2009, Gasquet went controversial and was suspended for matches after his drug test went positive for cocaine. He, however, got back in July the same year after convincing a tribunal that he got the drug, not because he was personally using it, but rather from a french kiss he took in a Miami nightclub.

Gasquet, later on, was able to maintain a positions in Top 10, Top 20, and Top 30 of ATP year-end charts, and is an all-time holder of most Grand Slam singles titles, finals, and semifinals. By 2018, he became the first Frenchman to hold 500 career wins, after a win over Mischa Zverev in Monte-Carlo.

‘Baby Federer’

Baby Federer, nevertheless, did not grew up to become the new Federer. For comparison, at the age of 37, Federer has 99 career titles and ranks 3rd in the world; while Gasquet has only a mere 15 career titles and ranks 28th. At such a pace in his career, Gasquet would never live up to the expectations placed on him. The real Federer himself noted how France give too much expectations on its players, that the latter gets a hard time catching up, especially how Gasquet spent much of his career to be what people had expected him to be.

One can only imagine the intense pressure and mental conditions that athletes, such as Gasquet, are enduring whenever they are subjected to enormous expectations whenever eyes peaked a pinch of their potential and talent. While Gasquet remains active in the sport, he continues to battle for a big break in his career. His struggle to maintain composure and self-confidence, despite multiple critical blows in his career and mental condition, is an achievement in itself.

By @EliaasMJ

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