Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Murray facing wrath of Gasquet

Andy Murray will face an angry Richard Gasquet today after the latter's pleas to have their French Open first-round match postponed fell on deaf ears.

Gasquet asked tournament referee Stefan Fransen to move the clash from today to Tuesday after he suffered a leg injury winning his first ATP title in more than three years.

But Fransen refused to make an exception for the Frenchman, who beat Fernando Verdasco at the Nice Open.

Gasquet is understood to be upset with the decision, claiming before a second appeal was turned down that it would be unfair to force him to play within a day of his arrival in Paris from France's south coast.

However, moving his and Murray's match to tomorrow would almost certainly have meant the victor playing two days in succession at some point during the tournament.

It is unclear how seriously Gasquet's left leg is troubling him, although he twice required on-court treatment during Saturday's 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7/5) win.

That result was a 10th victory in a row for the former world number seven, who won a Challenger event in Bordeaux last week.

After falling to 68th in the rankings following injury and a ban for inadvertently taking cocaine, Murray's fellow 23-year-old is coming into form at just the wrong time for the Scot.

However, Saturday's win saw him demonstrate the mental fragility that cost him dearly in the pair's last meeting at Wimbledon two years ago, when Gasquet squandered a two-set lead.

He claims to be feeling good ahead of today's match but is taking nothing for granted against world number four Murray.

"This run in Nice has made my confidence return," he said.

"The fact I have put 10 victories together in two weeks has made all the difference, but I know Murray is going to be tough.

"Murray reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year and also made the semi-finals in Monte Carlo (this month).

"So, in my view, he is one of the top 10 to 15 players on clay."

Murray holds the edge in what is a daunting encounter, according to a man who witnessed both players' meteoric rise through the junior ranks.

Great Britain's new Davis Cup captain Leon Smith coached Murray from the ages of 11 to 15, at a time when Gasquet was rewriting the record books. The Frenchman was still 15 when he became the youngest player to qualify for a Masters event just over eight years ago.

Gasquet went on to become the youngest player to win a tour-level main draw match since 1988 and the second-youngest male to compete in the main draw at the French Open.

A year later, he was the youngest player to finish a season inside the ATP top 100.

Smith said of the precocious Frenchman: "We saw a bit of Gasquet growing up but he jumped through the seeds so quickly that he actually moved out of junior tennis at pace.

"Obviously, the matches we saw when he was younger, he was incredibly talented. The backhand stood out by a mile.

"He was one of the youngest guys to win on the tour. He's a good talent and even though his ranking has dropped because of the ‘situation', he's still one of the most talented players on the tour."

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