Richard Gasquet Blasts ‘Catastrophic’ ATP - UBITENNIS
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Richard Gasquet Blasts ‘Catastrophic’ ATP

The former world No.7 has criticised the ATP over their handling related to the COVID-19 pandemic and has called for tennis matches to be shortened.

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Richard Gasquet, Rolex Paris Masters 2018, Simple Messieurs, 1er Tour, Photo : Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

French tennis veteran Richard Gasquet has launched a verbal attack against the governing body of men’s tennis over both their management of the current COVID-19 pandemic and their policies.

The 34-year-old former Grand Slam semi-finalist ripped into the ATP during a recent interview with sports newspaper L’Equipe earlier this week. In it he accused the organisation of being ‘overwhelmed’ by the pandemic and lacking transparency. All competitive tennis tournaments have been cancelled since March due to the Virus with officials aiming to restart the Tour next month.

“The ATP is a catastrophe,” Gasquet told L’Equipe. “They don’t say anything to the players. They are simply overwhelmed. Nothing is said in Zoom conferences, so I do not attend.”

In recent weeks some players have expressed concerns about returning to action and travelling to America. A country which has recently seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in some parts. For the first time in history the US Open will be held behind closed doors and players will be essentially kept in what is being described as a ‘bubble.’ Although there is still a lack of clarity about quarantine measures when travelling between America and Europe.

The final decision about the US Open will be made by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and not the ATP. Tennis is made up of seven governing bodies and each Grand Slam has their own. Gasquet, who says he no longer listens to the ATP, has also hit out at those tennis federations which includes the one in his own country. Branding them as ‘puppets.’

“It is the authorities who decide,” Gasquet stated. “But neither Bernard Giudicelli (the president of the FFT) nor the president of the USTA are decision-makers. The federations are puppets.”
“You go to the hotel, you stay in your room, someone has a meal for you, and you go out to play. There just have to be a lot of regulations,“ he added about the US Open.

The route of Gasquet’s frustration is the unanswered questions he and others on the Tour are facing concerning its resumption. Due to the pandemic, the US Open and French Open will take place within seven weeks as well as two clay-court Masters 1000 events. Something the former top 10 player has described as ‘completely crazy’ during another interview with Le Parisien three weeks ago.

“I said from the start that tennis was going to be the sport most affected by this kind of pandemic,” said Gasquet. “It is confirmed. Here we are in a total blur. Nothing is known about possible quarantines upon return from the USA. And planes? At the moment you cannot book flights. Nobody knows anything.”

Besides the pandemic, a straightforward-speaking Gasquet also heavily criticised some other aspects of the sport. Making a jibe at the rules currently in place on the ATP Tour before coming out in support of shortening matches. Saying he can no longer watch long duels involving the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. According to the ATP, Gasquet has played 24 five-set matches in his career but has won only 11 of them.

“With the ATP you can do nothing. You open your mouth a little, you say something bad, it’s a $3,000 fine. Your coach whispers something, you get punished. It’s unbearable,” he fumes.
“I can’t even watch Roland Garros anymore. I can’t watch four or five sets of tennis, even for a Federer-Nadal match. We are the only sport where you play more than four hours…. There are some things to think about to shorten playing time.”

Gasquet has been ranked as high as seventh in the world rankings and has won 15 ATP titles. So far in his career, he has made more than $18 million in prize money.

note: translation of quotes obtained via Tennis Majors

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World No.32 Davidovich Fokina Replaces Long-Time Coach With Verdasco

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Fernando Verdasco was spotted earlier this week briefly watching Ons Jabeur play at the French Open but his focus this year is on another player.

The former top 10 player has landed a new coaching job after being hired by compatriot Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Somebody who he once played a Tour-level doubles match alongside back in 2020. Fokina has opted to stop working with Jorge Aguirre, who has been his mentor since he was a child.

The change comes after what has been a mixed start to the season for Fokina who has only managed to win back-to-back matches in two out of 11 tournaments played before the start of Roland Garros. His sole win over a top 20 player occurred at the start of 2024 when he beat Hubert Hurkacz at the United Cup.  

“I will be very brief. I have left it with Jorge (Aguirre) and I start with Verdasco, with whom I have had a good relationship for years. He has not officially retired, but I knew that he was training other players and it was time,” Fokina told reporters after beating Valentin Vacherot in the first round of the French Open.
“It was time to close a stage and start a new one. With his experience, Verdasco can help me a lot to face the games, to assume that pressure and tension of the competition.”

Verdasco has won seven ATP titles during his career and reached the semi-finals of the 2009 Australian Open. At this year’s Madrid Open, he briefly helped Jabeur whose main coach Issam Jellali was unable to attend the tournament. 

Fokina will next play Casper Ruud in Roland Garros.

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Roland Garros 2024: Casper Ruud Explains Geneva Decision, Martin Etcheverry Talks Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Two-time finalist Casper Ruud is into the second round with a straight sets win over Felipe Meligeni Alves.

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Casper Ruud has explained the decision behind playing in Geneva last week after he defeated Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3 6-4 6-3.

The world number seven is into the second round after a straight sets win over the Brazilian qualifier.

Ruud has reached the final the past two occasions here having lost to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in those respective finals.

Now the Norwegian is targeting more success in Paris this year and spoke about his opening round performance after the match, “Yeah, I was honestly very happy. I think it was a good start,” Ruud stated in his press conference.

“I think Felipe is a dangerous player, and obviously I didn’t know him so well. So not easy to know what’s going to come out of his racquet. I think he was firing pretty good serves and forehands.

“Overall, I think it was a pretty high-quality match and happy to be through in straight sets. That’s just what I was kind of hoping and looking for. Yeah, I’m very happy to be through.”

Given Ruud’s history at Roland Garros, there would be no reason to suggest that the Norwegian would need to play his way into form.

However that’s exactly what he did in Geneva the week before Roland Garros as he won the title in Switzerland.

After his opening round match Ruud was asked about why he always plays in Geneva instead of practicing on-site in Paris, “No, I decide based on the fact that I enter the tournament, and with the purpose of going. But of course, if you do super well in Madrid and Rome and you play, let’s say, 10 matches or more within those two weeks or the two tournaments, maybe, depending on how your body feels, it’s kind of easier to skip it,” Ruud explained.

“But that wasn’t the case for me in Madrid and Rome. I played only four matches there. I lost early in Rome. If I didn’t play Geneva I would have had 17 or 18 days since I lost in Rome until starting in Roland Garros, which in my eyes, my feeling, is just a bit too much. For some players, they don’t think it’s too much. They don’t have a problem with it.

“But for me I like going into tournament kind of mode and feeling in the zone when you’re playing an official match. That’s why I like playing. It gives me kind of confidence and match feeling going into a Grand Slam, which is the Grand Slam that I personally feel like I have the most chances to do well in.”

Ruud will aim to continue his good run of form when he takes on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Martin Etcheverry Speaks On Roland Garros And Djokovic Influence

Finally Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated Arthur Cazaux in four sets to seal his place in the second round.

The Argentinian is a big Novak Djokovic fan and after the match spoke about his love for Roland Garros and has tipped Djokovic to win this year’s tournament, “I think it’s my favorite tournament since I was a child, and I always want to play here,” Martin Etcheverry explained.

“This is a moment of the year that I want to be here and try to play my best tennis because I want to get a good result here.

“Yeah, is he my idol, and he is the No. 1 of the world. I don’t know, like six years right now. Yeah, I always try to watch him, trying to improve the game. I always trying to saw him. Yeah, I think he’s going to be No. 1 a lot of time. I don’t know if they have a good year this year, but I think it’s Novak Djokovic. Maybe he can win this tournament.”

Martin Etcheverry will play another Frenchman in the form of Arthur Rinderknech in the second round with Ruud being the potential third round opponent.

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Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist Van De Zandschulp Pondering Retirement After French Open Exit

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image via https://x.com/Boticvdz/

Botic van de Zandschulp has revealed he is losing his passion for tennis and is considering retiring from the sport following his exit from the French Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old was knocked out of the tournament in straight sets by Fabio Fognini, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-1, 7-5, victory. It is the second Grand Slam in a row where he has fallen at the first hurdle with the 2022 Wimbledon championships being the last major event where he won back-to-back matches.   

“I don’t look forward to competitions at all anymore,” Zandschulp told Dutch media.
“I have been asking myself more and more lately whether I want to continue.
“You have to do work that you enjoy. Everyone has a bad day every now and then. But if there are too many, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to continue.” 

Zandschulp has been the top-ranked player in his country with his most notable achievement being a run to the quarter-finals of the 2021 US Open. The former world No.22 is a two-time runner-up at the Munich Open but is yet to win an ATP Tour title. He has registered a total of six wins over top 10 players, including Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev. 

However, recent difficulties on the Tour have left the Dutchman questioning if he wants to continue playing.  

“I like the training. Those are great days. But when I get up in the morning, I no longer look forward to the matches at all.” He commented.

Zandschulp’s remarks could be a reaction to his frustrating loss to Fognini. However, he confirmed that he has been considering retiring for a long time. 

“It was the worst match I have played in my life,” he said. 
“Of course, it is now fresh after the match. That plays a role in my mind, but the thoughts of quitting have been there for a long time. It is not an easy life as a tennis player. You really live your life, play thirty weeks a year and travel from pillar to post.
“If you don’t play, someone else will pass you by (in the rankings). That’s why I now play extra tournaments instead of charging myself at home.”

Zandschulp is currently ranked 102nd in the world and is scheduled to play in the French Open doubles event on Tuesday.

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