Is Richard Gasquet in his twilight years of tennis? Who's to say but ranked 26, having turned pro 16 years ago, a few years less than some NextGen guys' age, he's doing fine and winning with his brand of tennis.
At 32, Gasquet had won the Libema Open title at s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands opposite a French comrade Jeremy Chardy back in June and he only took 90 minutes and two straight sets to do it. "It is great to win a title again...It [has been] two years that I didn't...It is my 15th title so it is unusual.
It is very tough to win on the ATP World Tour..." Gasquet had explained. He also admitted that playing a comrade, another Frenchman wasn't great either saying "It is never easy playing a friend but we are used to playing a lot of French players....it is never easy".
And also Gasquet though it to be an advancement to not only win his 15th title but on the rounds leading to the final he defeated the NextGen Stefano Tsitsipas. But the titles do not come easy and at the start of the season, Gasquet has had his share of losses and injuries.
At Melbourne, he had gotten to the third round against Roger Federer and bowed. The pen Sud de France though he made it through to the final beating out NextGen Daniil Medvedev, doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and Belgium's David Goffin to play against a fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille but lost in straight sets.
The French Open went to the third round with Gasquet meeting up with Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard had his game intact while the Frenchman had a difficult time keeping up with Nadal and not being able to dissect his game enough to come up with a victory.
Nadal won 85 per cent of his net points and nearly that much on his first-serve points. Gasquet was feeling quite inadequate but this is Nadal's turf and he was performing at a superior level which was his usual level when he's 'on point'.
There are more players on point than Gasquet could believe and that was at Wimbledon opener he met up with another Frenchman, Gael Monfils. The rallies were long and stinging. It was often that Gasquet would have the upper hand and had gotten consistent points from an overhead smash and put away volleys in the open court spaces.
Gasquet later had lost to Monfils in three sets. He had also managed to move into the finals of his next tournament at the Swedish Open this time a meet with Fabio Fognini, a crafty Italian player that performs at most times unbelievably well.
The match didn't go Gasquet's way and he lost again in a tough three-setter 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. Catching victories for each round can seem impossible as Gasquet travelled to his next tournament at Cincinnati to be opposite the Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta to only lose that round in a three-set battle.
The last grand slam of the year, the U.S. Open started off grand for Gasquet who easily dispersed of Japan's Yuichi Sugita but in the third round, he was to face Novak Djokovic who became the slight pain in Gasquet's strategies and as he won over the Frenchman without allowing him one set.
The talents that Gasquet do have with that precision backhand slam and gentle touches of slices over the net have worked well in the past, while Djokovic was immune and knew how to counteract his techniques. He gave praise to the veteran player saying "...Gasquet is a tricky player, someone that has plenty of experience, someone that I know very well...I don't think he was playing bad...It seemed like he just needed a few points to break through".
Gasquet's strategies worked for his battle with Nick Kyrgios in the second round of the Japan Open but in the semifinal with Kei Nishikori, he powered over Gasquet's light touches and won the round. The signs of a consistently good player are going deep within tournaments and the Frenchman had done this at the European Open reaching the semifinal again this time with Britain's Kyle Edmund.
The rallies were different but the result the same as Edmund defeated Gasquet in the semifinal round. With the season swinging towards an end, at the Paris Masters, Gasquet did manage a win over another NextGen Denis Shapovalov but his next round opponent was Jack Sock who had more answers in rallies and cut through Gasquet's game, defeating him with no allowance of a victory set.
A few years back in 2016 injuries had begun but a halt to Gasquet's performances. Right before the Australian Open, he had to withdraw due to a back injury. He recuperated well and had no recurring ailments until Wimbledon when he'd retire in the first set with a pain in his back again forcing a withdrawal from the 2016 Olympics.
The following year 2017 he missed three ATP Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo) while recuperating from appendicitis surgery. This year's France Davis Cup last month, he would also miss with a groin ailment.
It was in his absence that Captain Yannick Noah depended on Lucas Pouille, Jeremy Chardy and Jo-Wilfred Tsong to carry the playing load. It wasn't to be for France but Croatia was too much for France and they'd win with a dynamic play from Croatia's Marin Cilic.
Many have said that Gasquet plays a standard, good all-court game and his backhand are his most difficult and competitive for players to have victories over, but there are some holes in the veteran's game that has helped him and also not served to his advantage at times.
He has a great ability to push players back to the baseline and then comes in for that determined put-away volley, slice or drop shot. Gasquet may have a problem now with the variation of players rising on the ATP tour. He not only has to overpower and outsmart other top-ranked players, the qualifiers but the NextGen young men who play a quicker, more powerful game.
This season will continue to be challenging for Gasquet to not only win matches but go deep in tournaments and perhaps win his 16th title that may be coming up in his career.