Weekend Witness - - Sport -

PARIS — It has been a long and hard road back to form for Richard Gas­quet, but once again this year he en­ters the French Open as the flag-bearer of home hopes.

That stems from his top per­for­mance at the Rome Mas­ters ear­lier this month where he de­feated Roger Federer and Thomas Berdych be­fore stretch­ing Rafael Nadal in the semi-fi­nals.

With Gael Mon­fils bat­tling in­juries and Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga and Gilles Si­mon never en­tirely at home on clay, Gas­quet has emerged as the player seen as most likely to em­u­late Yan­nick Noah, the last French­man to win at Roland Gar­ros in 1983.

He has worked his way back with the aid of coach Eric De- blicker and with re­tired for­mer French Open semi-fi­nal­ist Se­bastien Gros­jean.

Still, for­mer boy-won­der Gas­quet is re­luc­tant to see him­self once again put up on a pedestal at Roland Gar­ros, know­ing that his record in the tour­na­ment to date is abysmal.

“It’s ups and downs and ups and downs all the time. It’s nor- mal, you know,” he said.

“If I hap­pen to be de­feated by (Radek) Stepanek (in first round), I’m not go­ing to be that much cov­ered by the me­dia.”

“But if I win again, you know, I’m not ask­ing ng my­self these types of ques­tions. stions. I’ll try and do what I can n lit­tle by lit­tle. I’ll try and not think hink about this,” he said. — Sapa-AFP. apa-AFP.

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