Richard Gasquet, Les Petits As, 1999

Article by Franck Ramella for l’Equipe Magazine, translation by Tennis Buzz:

Since 1983, Les Petits As tournament welcome players aged from 12 to 14 who sometimes write the beginning of a long story. Like Richard Gasquet, winner in 1999 after a victory of Nadal in the quarterfinals.

Q: Before we speak about the young ones, let’s talk about a soon-to-be 30 who has a bad back. Are you feeling better since December?

There’s no more pain. I hit again only since last week. I mostly did bodybuilding and an infiltration. I always went to Spain to consult an osteopath.

Q: Les Petits As, it reminds you memories?

Of course I remember it. It looks like an ATP tournament. 3,000 people for the final, loads of sponsors. The director who launched something like that (Jean-Claude Knaebel in 1983) was really good!

Q: Do you remember your opponents?

The first year, in 1998, I lost to Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals. The next year, I was the favorite. And I was happy to have won the tournament. A beautiful victory. In the final, I beat American Brian Baker 7-5 6-1 (7-5 6-3 in fact). I was born in 1986 but played aginst players born in 1985. I remember I beat Frenchman Antoine Tassart 6-0 6-0. And then I beat Rafael Nadal in the quarters (6-7 6-3 6-4).

Q: Was it already a special match?

You get to know that only later. This match has been much commented afterwards. And it remained in the minds of the people. If you have told me he would win 9 Roland Garros titles, I would have said no. But he was difficult to play. He made no unforced errors. He ran everywhere. He was so full of energy! (Nadal won Les Petits As the year after).

Q: Some say you used to whimper on court throwing you racquet

I don’t know if I used to cry, but throw my racquet, yes, for sure. Losing is difficult. I did not lose often back then. I also remember that with my father, we used to leave the hotel early, even though the matches were later in the day. We were going around the stadium, I was discovering, but I was losing my influx. I was exhausted.

Q: What advice would you give to the young generation?

Les Petits As, you’ve got to be there. The whole experience made a strong impression on me. But beware, it’s not an end. It’s just a step.

Q: Do you follow the results?

Yes, I like to see how the guys evolve. I know Rayane Roumane won two years ago. Now, I sometimes train with him. He plays really well, He is the number-one French hope.

Q: You would like to return to Les Petits As?

I went back for an exhibition in 2006 with Gael (Monfils). But yes, I’d like to see how it goes now.

Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon 2010

From Rafael Nadal’s autobiography Rafa:

That diesel engine image Carlo Costa uses to describe me was especially appropriate in this tournament.
I started sluggishly, but once I got going, there was no stopping me. I nearly went out in the second round, squeaking through in five sets, but the further I advanced and the tougher the opponents were the more my game improved.

I beat Soderling in the quarterfinals in four sets and Andy Murray in the semis in three. In the match against Murray the Centre Court behaved impeccably. The British have been longing to have their own Wimbledon champion since 1936, when Fred Perry last won, and the crowd made it quite clear from the start where their allegiances lay. Murray, seeded four in the tournament, was the best hope they had had in a long time. Yet I felt they were entirely fair with me throughout, not cheering my double faults, clapping after my better shots. And when, to the disappointment of the great majority, I won in straight sets, they did not begrudge me a warm ound of applause.

I had expected that if I made it to the final, I’d be meeting Roger Federer for the fourth year running. I didn’t. My opponent this time was the number twelve seed Tomas Berdych, who’d had a brilliant run in the tournament, beating Federer in the quarters and Djokovic in the semifinals.
Though complacency was not on my mind, I was not nearly as nervous as I had been before the final two years earlier. Just as never having played a Wimbledon final before places you at a disavantage, the experience of having done so – in my case four times now- provides a soothing measure of familiarity. Playing an almost perfect game, I won in three sets, 6-3 7-5 6-4, to collect my second Wimbledon championship and eight Grand Slam.

The last Masters 1000 of the season, the BNP Paris Masters starts in about a week. I got the chance to attend the tournament in 2010 and 2011 and I’ll be there again this year, so stay tuned for recaps, pics and videos!

Waiting for the 2012 tournament, here are a few pics and videos of the 2010 tournament won by Robin Soderling.

Robin Soderling

The hard-hitting Swede defeated Simon, Wawrinka, Roddick, Llodra and Monfils to capture his first Masters 1000 title, his sixth career title.

“I don’t have a very good record in finals, and especially here in Paris, but I think a final is that one match you really want to win. I’m really happy that I played well today, and now I’m here winning the title. When I won that last point, I just felt so happy and I felt so relieved. I really wanted to win this match so much.”

Following his win, he reached a career high number 4 ranking.

Soderling has not competed since the 2011 Swedish Open in July 2011 due to injuries and illness and his return to tennis is in doubt.

Robin Soderling

Robin Soderling and Andy Roddick

Gael Monfils

2009 runner-up Gael Monfils qualified for the semifinals after victories over Becker, Verdasco and Murray. He then beat Roger Federer in a three set thriller 7-6 6-7 7-6, but Soderling proved too strong in the final.
Monfils, who was sidelined for several months this year with knee problems, has decided to end his season and won’t play the tournament this year.

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Michael Llodra

Llodra, then ranked 34, beat two former Bercy champions, Djokovic and Davydenko, to reach the semifinals in Bercy.
And he was just one point away from the final: he got 3 match points in the 12th game of the final set, but Soderling raced to the net each time for winners.

Michael Llodra

Michael Llodra

Novak Djokovic

Winner in 2009, Djokovic lost to Michael Llodra in the third round of the 2010 tournament. One month later he lead Serbia to their first Davis Cup victory.

Novak Djokovic

Nikolay Davydenko

Davydenko won his first Masters 1000 title at Paris Bercy 2006 by defeating Dominik Hrbaty in the final. In 2010, he defeated Thomaz Bellucci and Tomas Berdych before losing to Michael Llodra.

Nikolay Davydenko

Nikolay Davydenko

Andy Roddick

Despite his powerful weapons, his serve and forehand, Roddick has never done well at Paris Bercy. In 2010, he lost to Robin Soderling in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

In the stands:

Former Roland Garros finalist Magnus Norman and Soderling’s coach at the time:

Magnus Norman

Larry Stefanski, Andy Roddick’s coach:

Larry Stefanski

Amélie Mauresmo:

Amélie Mauresmo

Guy Forget and Mansour Bahrami:

Mansour Bahrami and Guy Forget

More pics and videos of Paris Bercy 2010.

In 1987, the legendary first Prestige Pro racquet marked HEAD’s entry into a new generation of tennis racquets, based on a carbon fibre construction. This enabled players like Henri Leconte, Emilio Sanchez and Thomas Muster to play with an unprecedented level of power, control, and precision.
Now, the legend continues as HEAD launches the 2012 HEAD YouTek™ IG Prestige, which is coming to stores worldwide right in time for the Australian Open.

To honour the anniversary of this legendary racquet series, HEAD kicks off the year 2012 with a special celebration. Looking back at 25 years of history, outstanding players, epic tennis matches and trophies, and very special and personal Prestige moments, HEAD has launched a bespoke Facebook application and a series of YouTube videos, which allow tennis fans to dive into the Prestige history.

Each month, one of the past and current HEAD Prestige players reflects on a special ‘Prestige’ moment in his career. The Prestige legend featured in January is Thomas Muster.
Watch him talk about the career-threatening leg injury he suffered a few hours after his semifinal win over Yannick Noah at Key Biscayne, in 1989:


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Robin Soderling is the only player to have beaten Rafael Nadal at the French Open. He qualified today for the fourth round with a straight sets win over qualifier Leonardo Mayer 6-1 6-4 6-3.

Next up for him: Gilles Simon, and a possible rematch of last year’s final against Rafa Nadal in quarterfinals.

Robin Soderling

Robin Soderling

Robin Soderling

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