“Lived a Lot Together” – Rafael Nadal Reminisces 22-Year-Old Battle Against Richard Gasquet Ahead of French Open 2021 Clash

Published 06/02/2021, 9:55 AM EDT
Rafael Nadal of Spain and Richard Gasquet of France before the match at Roland Garros Grand Slam Tournament – Day 7 on June 02, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Robert Szaniszló/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal began his French Open 2021 campaign with flying colors, defeating Alexie Popyrin in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (3) to set an encounter against his old rival and friend Richard Gasquet. The duo will meet for the 17th time on the ATP Tour, which the Spaniard currently leads 16-0.


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Although the numbers favor Nadal, their equation has never been without great admiration and respect for one another. What’s interesting about their journey is that they go way back before from the time playing on the ATP Tour for the first time.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 09: Rafael Nadal (R) of Spain congratulates Richard Gasquet (L) of France after being defeated by him in the 2018 Kooyong Classic at Kooyong on January 9, 2018, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

In his post-match conference, the Spaniard opened up about his time with Gasquet before their venture into the ATP Tour. He even remembers the first time they met on a tennis court and who won by what score.


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Rafael Nadal opens up on playing Richard Gasquet for the first time

Spain’s Rafael Nadal and France’s Richard Gasquet walked the same path in tennis. On many occasions, the pair even battled during their junior years, back when Gasquet was touted to be a sensation.

Reminiscing the old days, the 13-time French Open champion stated that they have come a long way together despite few hurdles.

“We have lived a lot together. We arrived at the circuit at the same time, and here we continue,” Nadal began. “A difficult time due to injuries, but we have maintained the illusion to play tennis and extend it until now.”

(Translated via Google)

PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 02: Richard Gasquet of France congratulates Rafael Nadal of Spain on victory following their men’s singles third round match during day seven of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 2, 2018, in Paris, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The question flooded Nadal with an array of memories from his past, compelling him to share the experience of their first meeting in Les Petis As, Tarbes, France, in 1999.

“The first game we played in Tarbes when I was twelve or thirteen is the most special. It was the first time, everyone talked a lot about Gasquet in his day, because when he was young he was the best, and I was also outstanding, but I had not played so much away, and I think it was an exciting match even though I lost 6-4 in the third set.”


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Furthermore, the Spaniard also remembered his 2005 Monte-Carlo semi-final win against Gasquet, which marked Nadal’s first Masters 1000 title, stating, “You always remember those you love the most.”

What to expect from Nadal vs. Gasquet at French Open 2021

Now, even decades later, Rafa and Gasquet are still playing one another, with the pair set to meet at Roland-Garros for the third time. Although it is a home tournament for Gasquet, it is more so so for Nadal in a way.


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It will be an exhibition of skill, grit, and most importantly, the self-belief they both inherit. Additionally, Nadal will celebrate his 35th birthday on the court with Gasquet; the Frenchman will celebrate his 35th 15 days later.

All in all, it is one of the most desirable matches of the French Open 2021. Let us see if Gasquet settles his 16 losses with a magical win on the Parisian clay.

Watch this story: SHOCKING: Bianca Andreescu, Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev and Others’ First-Round Exits at French Open 2021


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Purav Joshi

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Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.