French stalwart Richard Gasquet competed on the ATP Tour for an incredible 22nd consecutive season in 2023. Understandably, the 37-year-old is now far past his prime, and that became evident during periods of the season. However, he still conjured up some magic, which led to one particular moment of glory. Read on to relive the highs and lows of Gasquet’s season.
Richard Gasquet 2023 Season Review
The best moment of 2023 for the Frenchman came in his second tournament of the season in Auckland. After comfortably defeating a local wildcard in the opening round, he raised his game further to defeat Joao Sousa in straight sets. He lost the first set of his quarterfinal against David Goffin but recovered to destroy the Belgian 6-1 6-1 in the final two sets. After benefiting from a walkover in the semifinal, Gasquet met the then world No. 12 Cameron Norrie in the final. The Brit took the opening set 6-4. Conditions were hot and humid, and a victory for the younger Norrie seemed inevitable. But the 37-year-old rolled back the years with vintage shotmaking to claim an extraordinary 4-6 6-4 6-4 win. It was the 16th title of Gasquet’s long career, and his first since 2018.
His Auckland heroics were undoubtedly the highlight of 2023, but there were also other solid results. The two-time Wimbledon semifinalist had a run to the quarterfinal in Stuttgart, which included a dramatic 7-6 2-6 7-5 triumph against this year’s Australian Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas. He also reached the quarterfinal in Winston-Salem for a third consecutive season, losing an extremely close contest to Sebastian Korda.
Gasquet had some success at ATP Challenger events. A final was made on the clay courts of San Benedetto in July, where he lost out to mercurial compatriot Benoit Paire. He also reached the semifinals on home soil in Bordeaux on clay and Orleans on an indoor hardcourt.
Gasquet’s record at the Grand Slams is likely to be his biggest disappointment from 2023. He failed to reach the second-round of any of the Slams for the first time since 2004. Drawing Ugo Humbert the week after his title run in Auckland was a tough proposition at the Australian Open, and Gasquet partook in an epic five-set clash against Hamad Medjedovic at the US Open, but eventually ran out of steam in the fifth set. The losses at the French Open and Wimbledon will be of greater angst. Arthur Rinderknech recorded just his third Grand Slam victory to triumph over Gasquet at Roland-Garros. At Wimbledon, he led by a break in all three sets against Corentin Moutet, but conspired to lose in straight sets.
The 2013 US Open semifinalist will also be frustrated by three missed chances to add further upset victories to his tally. Gasquet served for the match against this year’s Shanghai Masters champion Hubert Hurkacz in Madrid, but eventually lost the deciding set 7-5. His tight loss in Winston-Salem to Korda was already mentioned. The final example came at the Paris Masters against Tommy Paul. In front of a raucous home crowd, Gasquet recovered from 5-2 down in the final set due some truly extraordinary shotmaking, particularly with his famed one-handed backhand. He held three match points at 6-3 up in a final-set tiebreak. Unfortunately, a double-fault at 6-5 cost the home favourite dearly, and Paul managed to get over the line.
It is not clear how much longer Gasquet will continue to play. Hopefully we can continue to savour that glorious backhand for a little longer. Regardless, he will always be able to look back on the memories from Auckland, where he became one of the oldest ATP title winners.
Main Photo Credit: Jerry Lai – USA TODAY Sports