The Day 15-Year-Old Gasquet Made History In Monte Carlo
Richard Gasquet has enjoyed a successful career, climbing as high as No. 7 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, winning 542 tour-level matches and lifting 15 ATP Tour trophies. This month, the 33-year-old hit 15 consecutive years inside the Top 100.
But it all started for him at the 2002 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. At 15, Gasquet received a wild card into qualifying. The Frenchman took full advantage, making history.
After qualifying without dropping a set — including a 6-1, 6-1 victory against Nikolay Davydenko — Gasquet became the youngest player to win an ATP Masters 1000 match, defeating World No. 54 Franco Squillari to reach the second round of the main draw. He remains the youngest tour-level match winner since Tommy Ho at 1988 Rye Brook.
“It’s a great memory. I remember it, but it’s such a long time [ago],” Gasquet said in 2018. “It’s crazy. I was a child. I remember I came here, I got a wild card. I came with my father and my mother was [also[ there. I never expected to win against Squillari and play Marat Safin. it was a dream; that’s why I always dreamed to play tennis.”
Less than two years earlier, Squillari reached a career-high World No. 11. The Argentine had recently played well in Miami, advancing past David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic and Thomas Enqvist. But he struggled against Gasquet’s pressure, as the Frenchman converted all eight of his break points.
Gasquet next played former World No. 1 Marat Safin, and the Russian prevailed 6-4, 6-1. At 15, the Frenchman was unable to find the energy to match Safin’s power after playing three previous matches at the event.
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“It’s already very good to be in the second round of such a tournament, so the only thing you can feel is happiness,” Gasquet said at the time. “He played well. He is among the best players in the world. It’s not easy to play against such a player. My score was a good one. It wasn’t easy.”
That wasn’t the only early success Gasquet had in Monte-Carlo. At 18, he upset World No. 1 Roger Federer 6-7(1), 6-2, 7-6(8), finishing his win with a backhand down the line, which would become one of his signature shots.
Perhaps fittingly, Gasquet earned his 500th tour-level win in Monte-Carlo two years ago, beating Mischa Zverev to reach the quarter-finals that year.
“Of course it’s not the same face. I’m a little bit older,” Gasquet said, before cracking a joke. “Less hair now, that’s a problem.”