Day 4 - Under the lights: Gasquet rolls back the years

Conceding 16 years to his rival, Richard Gasquet is proudly defying Father Time as he takes on Jannik Sinner

 - Alix Ramsay

It is the law of nature: eventually the old must give way to the young. But as 22-year-old Jannik Sinner prepares to face the soon-to-be-38-year-old Richard Gasquet, Gasquet is doing all in his power to break the law.

This is his 21st Roland Garros and, maybe his last. He is the crowd favourite and if he can get those faithful followers cheering for him on Wednesday, he believes anything is possible. It will not be easy but it might just be possible.

“If he plays his best tennis, well, he is the favourite,” Gasquet said. “I've played him twice. Two excellent matches. Three sets I played on grass in Halle, and then Indian Wells I played him. Two good matches I must say, but he is stronger than I am, of course, but I played well.


“I hope that it's going to be a big event for me. It's incredible to be on the centre court here. To play against Sinner is exceptional. So I'll try and make the most of it and enjoy this great opportunity that I'm given.”

Gasquet has worked hard to grab his opportunity, too. He is fitter and stronger than last season and he has played almost every week since the start of the year, dropping down to Challenger events at times to get as match tough as his ageing body will allow. He will be ready and he knows that Sinner, with only a few days of practice and one match behind him since injuring his hip in Madrid, is still feeling his way back to form. The old lion smells blood.

Richard Gasquet, premier tour / Roland-Garros 2024©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“The hip seems good; I'm very happy about that,” Sinner said. “The general shape is not where I want to be but it takes time. Playing against any French player here, it's very difficult. Especially against Richard. He has huge support here. I'm looking forward to it. He has given so much for the sport. It's good to see him on the court. He's still so talented, so I have to be at my best if I want to win.”


So that is the match up: world No.2 Jannik Sinner against world No.124 Richard Gasquet and 15,000 of Richard’s close friends on Court Philippe Chatrier. Good luck, Jannik. You are going to need it.