Veteran Frenchman Richard Gasquet has said 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal is a different beast now to what he was when he won his maiden French Open title.
With 13 French Open titles under his belt, Nadal’s record at the famed Roland Garros is second to none and Gasquet believes that he has only got better across surfaces and virtually unbeatable on clay with time.
A dominant force at the Roland Garros for the last 15 years, Nadal, said Gasquet, has adapted his game to suit the needs of modern-day tennis.
Gasquet, who has 15 ATP titles to his credit, said Nadal has enhanced his skills in the court and is now an even better player than he was as a teenager.
Touching on his recent unenviable record at the French Open, Gasquet said, “When you compare 2005 Rafael Nadal to his current self at Roland Garros, it feels like (he is) a different player.”
“He plays twice as fast now and strikes the ball earlier,” Gasquet said.
Underlining his dominance on clay, and at Roland Garros in particular, Nadal lifted his 13th French Open trophy without dropping a set this year.
Lavishing praise on the ‘Big Three’ of men’s tennis (Nadal, Federer and Djokovic), Gasquet said the reason why they are modern-day greats is that they never sit on their laurels and keep pushing hard for more.
“What impresses me the most about the best players is that they manage to keep their motivation, every tournament and every week,” Gasquet said.
“They are better at tennis at 33, 34 years of age than they were at 20,” the Frenchman added.
Gasquet, who was in the draw for the ongoing Rolex Paris Masters, suffered a third-round exit on Wednesday.
He was beaten in straight sets by Argentine Diego Schwartzman.