The History of Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet’s Rivalrous Friendship

Published 06/01/2021, 5:30 PM 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)

Friendships on the ATP tour are widely celebrated by players and their fans. Rafael Nadal, who share close ties with likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov amongst others has also shared an affectionate friendship with the French tennis star, Richard Gasquet.


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Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 1, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his first round match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Watch this story: Best duels of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at French Open, Italian Open, and other clay-court tournaments


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Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet share a long-term friendship on the ATP tour

Nadal, who defeated the Australian Alexei Popyrin in the first round at Roland Garros this year will face long-time friend Gasquet in the next round. The duo grew up together, traveling to different tournaments as kids, and share mutual respect for each other to this day.

Gasquet was widely celebrated along various French tennis magazines as the next big thing in the sport at a very young age. A naturally gifted player, the Frenchman made a promising start to his career by reaching the French Open final in 2004.

But, Gasquet couldn’t sustain on clay once the big names Federer, Nadal, Djokovic began to dominate. Still, the Frenchman remained an elegant player to watch till date.

Coming to the friendship between Nadal and Gasquet, the duo played against each other for the first time when they were just 13 years old at  a tournament named ‘Les Petits As’ (Little champions). Richard Gasquet won the contest after the Spaniard retired after losing the first set.

Gasquet looks forward to make his French Open match against Nadal memorable

Since then, the duo faced each other 16 times on the ATP tour, and the Spaniard won all the duels fair and square. It’s surprising to note that both of them played only seven matches against each other on the red-dirt.

Both Nadal and Gasquet last played in the third round of 2018 French Open.  The 20-time grand slam champion won the contest in straight sets 6-3,6-2,6-2. During their post-match interaction, Nadal apologized to the Frenchman for the loss out of sheer respect.

During their junior times, both the players were expected to make it big on the singles tour one day. As Nadal had a tough coach in the form of uncle Toni, the Frenchman had to battle a lot of issues on and off the court.


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PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 02: Richard Gasquet of France congratulates Rafael Nadal of Spain on victory following their mens 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)

When the duo meet for their 17th encounter(probably the last) on the Parisian clay, where Nadal enjoys a hefty dominance and has an almost unbeaten record, the Frenchman will be hopeful of a huge crowd support to push him to do well against the 13-time French Open champion.

Even though the Spaniard enters the match as a favorite, it will be interesting to see the Frenchman bringing out his clay-court skills in front of his home-crowd. Also, this might be the last year for Gasquet on the men’s tour, and a huge chance to beat his long-time friend, Rafael Nadal


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Sagar Ashtakoula

226 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.