As promised, this is about Richard Gasquet and his chances to win the 2010 U.S. Open Tennis Grand Slam currently underway. But in reality, it has to be about all the Frenchmen.
So far, the following are among those advancing, with other Frenchmen threatening to break through with current rounds as I write this article in parentheses: Gasquet (3), Jeremy Chardy (out in second), Benoit Paire (close to out in second), Adrian Mannarino (2), Gilles Simon (2), Michael Llodra (3), Florent Serra (2), Paul-Henri Mathieu (3), Arnaud Clement (3), and Gael Monfils (3). It turns out that out of the forty or so players left, fully nine are still alive as I write this article. Incroyable!
To see what this means, if the current draws remain to form, we might have an all-French final. The players with a chance to reach the Finals seem at this point to include Gasquet, Monfils, Llodra, Clement, and Mathieu. Taking these players in order, this is what we get.
Gasquet has been ranked as high as seventh at one time. He reached the Fourth Round six times until 2008, including a Semifinals berth in the 2007 Wimbledon.
Unfortunately, for this successful Frenchman, Gasquet fell on hard times after a cocaine scandal broke in 2009. The scandal threatened to end his young career after he tested positive. He was eventually cleared of wrongdoing, successfully claiming he must have tested positive because of kissing a woman who had done cocaine that evening.
He appears to have gotten back on track.
At this point, unseeded Gasquet appears both sufficiently seasoned and back to form sufficiently to make this his best run ever in a Grand Slam. His Second Round annihilation of Nicholay Davidenko was as dominant a performance over a ranked opponent as has been seen so far in the 2010 U.S. Open.
With Ryan Harrison's performance today, we are reminded that great performances can become commonplace from up-and-coming players. And his path could see two other Frenchmen, Clement and Monfils. Yet somehow, Gasquet seems the pick because of his performances a few years ago.
Monfils is seeded seventeenth in the 2010 U.S. Open. In 2009, he reached ninth in the world. In Grand Slams, Monfils has reached the Quarterfinals and Semifinals at Roland Garros, and has reached the Fourth Round in the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Open. Another player who seems ready to make a run, Monfils may only have another Frenchman to worry about as he may reach the Round of Sixteen to face Gasquet. If they meet, the winner could run the tables to the Finals.
Llodra reached the Quarterfinals in 2009. The deepest of all the French players in the 2009 U.S. Open, Llodra appears to be at top form and gaining confidence. Between Llodra and the Finals are Murray and Nadal. Both will prove a very difficult barrier to his first Finals.
Clement is another Frenchman who seems to be ready for a deep run at the Open. He plays with an eye problem, which makes any run he makes special.
While playing he often wears a bandana and sunglasses. The sunglasses have been medically prescribed for Clement because of severe eye problems he has encountered through his life, which had nearly left him blind as a child.
Francophiles may ask: "Why are Monfils, Gasquet, and Clement all in the same quarter of the draw?" We would answer: "With Roddick, Baghdatis, and Davydenko out of that draw, why complain?"
Mathieu reached the Fourth Round at Wimbledon, and is enjoying a resurgence of his tennis. 28 years old and once looking at many players with his No. 12 ranking, Mathieu would have to get past Federer in this upcoming round. Can he do it? Perhaps.
So there they are. And, as a curiosity perhaps, except for Llodra, they would have to get by Federer. No small piece of work, but who knows in this 2010 U.S. Open?
And that is The Real Truth!