The men's semifinals at
are set, and it consists of the "Big Four" of Novak Djokovic, Roger
Federer, Andy Murray and ... Richard Gasquet? Okay, so maybe not quite the "Big Four" as we've come to
define the term, but there was a time about ten years ago when Gasquet was
expected to fit right in with this legendary group.
Gasquet is similar in age to Nadal, Djokovic and
Murray, and was as highly
touted of a prospect as any of them. In
2002 he was the number one junior in the world, and he won a match on the ATP
Tour when he was only 15 years old. When
he was just 18 he beat Federer on clay, and seemed well on his way to becoming
a grand slam champion.
While by most accounts Gasquet has had a very successful pro career, he clearly didn't develop into the superstar many thought he could become. He's been a perennial top 20 player who occasionally makes some noise at bigger events, but generally tops out in the Round of 16 or quarterfinals.
As talented as Gasquet is, in hindsight he lacked some of the tools that became valued in today's game. He doesn't possess a killer forehand, is a good but not great athlete, and at times lacks focus and self belief. In a different era he may have been able to overcome some flaws and win a slam based on his talent alone, but not where all-time greats are waiting at the end of every major.
Wimbledon is any
indication, Gasquet may be like Wawrinka and play some of his best tennis in
his late 20s and early 30s. His game
should age well, and his mental game seems to be improving. He looked to be breaking through a couple of
years ago, but his progress was interrupted by some injuries. It may be too late for Gasquet to change the
fact that he didn't become a member of the "Big Four" (or had he
joined, the "Big Five"), but it's not too late for him to make us
remember what could have been.