5 years ago, many tennis insiders thought Nadal and Gasquet would fight for Grand Slam titles and the number one ranking.

Since his young age Richard Gasquet was touted as an extremely promising prospect.
At 9, he was on the cover of the french Tennis Magazine. At 15, he made his debut on the ATP Tour in Monte Carlo, and was seen as a future Grand Slam contender.
At 18, he beat world number one Roger Federer and earned the nickname “Baby Federer”. But over the ensuing years, it became more and more obvious that Gasquet would never live to the expectations.
And at 23, he faced a drug ban.

What about Nadal, his rival from junior days? 6 Grand Slam titles, 18 Masters Series, 3 Davis Cup. Enough said.

When Gasquet and Nadal met in semifinals in 2005, the French had caused a major upset, defeating Roger Federer 6-7 6-2 7-6 the previous round.
Big opposition of style between Gasquet the shot maker and Nadal the grinder. The latter would prevail after 3 tight sets.

Richard Gasquet

Rafael Nadal

Eric Deblicker (left), Gasquet’s coach from 2004 to 2008:

Eric Deblicker

The next day, Nadal would capture his first Masters Series title with a 4 sets win over defending champion Guillermo Coria.

One month later Nadal and Gasquet would meet again, in the third round of Roland Garros. An easy 6-4 6-3 6-2 win for Nadal. On his 19th birthday, Nadal defeated Federer in the 2005 French Open semifinals and two days later, he defeated Mariano Puerta in the final.

Richard Gasquet is a really gifted player, with one of the most beautiful and efficient backhand of the ATP Tour. BUT. Gasquet is a headcase and will probably join Nalbandian, Rios and Safin on the “biggest underachievers” list.
What do you think? Do you think he can go back to top ten?

More:
– both Nadal and Federer won eleven singles titles and in 2005
– Nadal won the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year award in 2005
– with his win in 05′ RG, he became the second player to win a Grand Slam on his first attempt after Mats Wilander in 1982

Rafa by the numbers

6 Grand Slam titles, 3 Davis Cup, 1 Olympic gold medal, 18 Masters Series titles. At 24, the only trophy missing to his impressive collection is the US Open crown.

Some of Rafa’s records:
– 81 consecutive wins on clay
– 18 Masters Series titles
– 6 consecutive titles in a tournament (Monte Carlo)
– the only player to win 400 singles matches in fewer than 500 matches played
– the only player to win all 3 clay court Masters Series in the same season
and on and on

Here you can find the details of Rafa’s singles titles:

Grand Slam:
You can click on the column to sort by year, championship, surface…

Year Championship Surface Opponent in the final Score in the final
2005 French Open Clay Mariano Puerta 6–7(6), 6–3, 6–1, 7–5
2006 French Open (2) Clay Roger Federer 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(4)
2007 French Open (3) Clay Roger Federer 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4
2008 French Open (4) Clay Roger Federer 6–1, 6–3, 6–0
2008 Wimbledon Grass Roger Federer 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7
2009 Australian Open Hard Roger Federer 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(3), 3–6, 6–2

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