French Open

Gasquet relishing Kyrgios rematch

2016-05-26 09:00
Richard Gasquet (Gallo Images)

Paris - Richard Gasquet admitted he is looking forward to Friday's French Open third-round encounter against Nick Kyrgios after two memorable meetings with the volatile Australian at Wimbledon.

Kyrgios saved nine match points against Gasquet at the All-England Club in a 2014 second-round clash, before the Frenchman avenged that loss a year later in a controversial last-16 match.

Kyrgios faced accusations of 'tanking' a game in the latter of those Wimbledon clashes, but Gasquet said he was a big fan of the Australian 21-year-old.

"He's the best newcomer coming now, so it will be an incredible match for me," said Gasquet, who defeated fellow former Roland Garros boys champion Bjorn Fratangelo of the United States 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the last 32.

"We know each other very well. We have played many times against each other. I know his game; he knows mine. Of course, I know how tough it is to play against him.

"I like to play against him. He's a nice guy. I always did win matches against Nick, so I hope this one will be the same."

Outspoken Kyrgios claimed he was the victim of biased umpiring during his first-round French Open win over Italy's Marco Cecchinato, with the 17th seed hit with a code violation for yelling at a ballboy.

But he brushed that controversy aside to cruise past Dutch lucky loser Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 in just 70 minutes and match his best showing at Roland Garros from last year.

"I expect a very tough match, because he played very good. He won in Marseille, in Miami, he went to semi-finals. In Madrid and Rome, he made both quarter-finals (and last 16), it's a good result. He won many good matches," said Gasquet, who owns a 4-2 head-to-head edge over Kyrgios.

"We have played each other many times. He's been in the circuit, on the tour for two, three years now. I think I'm probably the player he's played the most, which is quite surprising.

"It's funny how we keep playing each other. And every time we play, the matches are pretty crazy. In Wimbledon, the two matches were crazy, and I hope it will be the same.

"He's made some progress this year. He's stronger than last year. He's won some big matches and he's done great things. He's a great player. It will be a tough match. We are at Roland Garros, five sets, I think I could win."

While world number one Novak Djokovic labelled Kyrgios' decision to reference the Serb's run-in with umpire Carlos Bernardes at the Rome Masters as "unnecessary" during the Australian's heated debate with Carlos Ramos in the first round , Gasquet hailed the youngster's fiery presence on the circuit.

"He has a very strong personality. That's great. It's good to have players like him.

"Outside of the court he's very respectful. He's a guy I like very much. Every time I've played him things went very well. I think we are all quite lucky to have a guy like him on the tour."

Kyrgios said he too was relishing his latest showdown with Gasquet, having won their last encounter on the way to a first career title in Marseille in February.

"Me and Richard have had some really memorable matches. To be honest, some of my favourite matches I've played are against him. Every time we played at Wimbledon it's been a pretty good showdown.

"We played a lot of times, and he's a great guy, as well. He's always a guy that I feel comfortable around. He's always been a guy that's been nice to me, as well.

"I'm looking forward to it. If he gets through now, he's a tough competitor. I'm sure he's comfortable playing out here in front of his home crowd."

Read more on:    french open  |  richard gasquet  |  tennis


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