Tennis

Gaquet looking for fresh start

2011-12-27 18:08
Richard Gasquet (File)

Perth - Richard Gasquet admits he's searching for ways to lift a sagging 19th ATP ranking as the Frenchman prepares to play for his country starting with the opening-day tie on Saturday at the Hopman Cup mixed teams event.

Gasquet, a one-time prodigy who has been tipped for greatness in France for a decade, is still trying to fulfil the hopes of his teenaged years. He once stood seventh in the world.

The 25-year-old is starting his 2012 season with a fresh approach as he plays Perth for the first time, with Marion Bartoli as his partner. France open round-robin play on New Year's Eve against China, which boasts French Open champion Li Na and untested W Dix, ranked 421st.

"I've never played here (Perth), it's good to practice, it's good to prepare and to get ready for Melbourne," Gasquet told local media on Tuesday after a hit-up with Australian Matthew Eden. "I played a lot in Brisbane (the ATP event the same week), I wanted to change it a bit."

Gasquet and Wu have never played, while Li and number nine Bartoli are 1-1, with the Chinese winning their last meeting in Dubai in 2010.

Gasquet stands more than 400 spots higher than Wu and should be counted on taking a point for France.

The eight-nation competition includes singles and a mixed doubles rubber.

Gasquet said his goal is to return to a place in the tennis elite, "I'm trying to break into the top 10, I did it some years ago and I'm not far."

Host Australia will play Spain on New Year's day, with veteran warhorse Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Gajdosova facing Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues. The six-time champion US are back with Bethanie Mattek-Sands returning from 2011 with new partner Mardy Fish.

The Czech Republic feature world number two Petra Kvitova and seventh-ranked Tomas Berdych. "It's a great start of the season," said 2010 Wimbledon finalist Berdych,

"For me, it's a really nice situation and opportunity to play with the last Wimbledon champion, which doesn't happen every day. I think we can make a strong team."

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