Here is an old interview with Richard and Monfisl when they were both 19.
19 year olds Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils are the French tennis players of the year. They talk about their ambitions and blues with freshness/coolness but also their video games and girls. ďWeíre young, we do stupid thingsĒ they joke.
Their head-to-head is 1-1 but they donít really like play to each other. They swear that they havenít lived through their first quarrel. ďWeíre quite simple people, things have stayed natural between usĒ says Gael Monfils. ďWe still tell each other the truthĒ, adds Richard Gasquet. Both born in 1986, the two pearls of French tennis are today at a career high in world rankings (17 for Gasquet and 31 for Monfils). Before teasing each other on the courts on 2 January in Doha for the start of the 2006 season, this week theyíve done it with words at Roland Garros.
When did you first meet ?
GM : The first time that I spoke to you was here at Roland Garros. Youíd just won the French junior champs
RG : Weíd played "mini-tennis" afterwards, next to court 1. I lost but Iíd just played the final so I was tiredÖ. Otherwise you never wouldíve won
GM : we were both born in 86 but only Richard was playing in the championships. He was always outclassed
RG : the first time we played each other was in the 15-17 year-old quarter-finals. I won 6-0, 6-4
Gael : I was leading 4-3 up a break in the 2nd. But I didnít hold serve at the time, my service was hopeless
When did you meet up again for your first training common session ?
Richard : it was ago at Roland Garros. I was with my dad while Gael was alone. I had hit 3 balls way out, Iíd had really flipped my lid. There were some others but not that glorious : last year, I got myself disqualified at the US Open for throwing my racquet at a linesperson. I was in a total hole and Gael was coming back from injury. It was really far from being tennis
Gael : the two of us now train with each other regularly, we are together nearly all teh time. But itís not always that good. There was a bit of a hitting competition at the start
Any competition with first serves as well ?
Richard : you canít really compete with the blacks, too much power
Gael: my record is 231/h at Bercy last year.
Richard : Yeah, it was without doubt a friendly/well-meaning radar. Me, Iím already happy with 215.
Youíve already been world junior champs (Gasquet in 2002 and Monfils in 2004). What does this title mean to you ?
Gael : it was jsut a stage, we had it, voilŗ, thatís it
Richard : itís nothing on the pro circuit but itís still a very good title. It was good to win Roland Garros juniors but it doesnít compare to my Nottingham victory, in joy and in intensity/depth.
Gael : you even said that the junior Grand Slam was phoneyÖ
Richard : Careful/watch out, he can come out with big statements!
Gael : I just meant that I wasnít disappointed at having missed it.
Which one of your two will be the first to make the top 10 ?
Richard : (a little irritated). I know that weíll make it one day, thatís what counts.
Gael : he nearly made it, with no.12.
Richard : heís only lacking a few points before heís there, but Gael is going to get there very quickly
Gael: heís right, heís right!
Do you like to be each otherís spectators ?
Gael : ah yeah, watching Ricahrd play makes (seriously?) me laugh! He doesnít stop making way-out points which come out of nowhere. Itís incredible, I love it
Heís the only one on earth with Federer, non ?
Gael : Ah no, you insult Richard there. Heís the only one, really the only one to make these dream cross-courts
Ricahrd : I have a great time with Gael because anything can happen. You wait for the slide, the first drive at full strokes, the first smack of serve, even if itís on the line at the edge of the court. When he plays well, he is amongst the best in the world and there isnít anyone else like him. Itís a new player styleÖ so much better for tennis, but heís going to break himself in two one day.
Your biggest Ďbluesí moment to date ?
Gael : you have them quite often. This year, it was just before Wimbledon, I didnít manage on grass. I no longer knew how to play tennis.
Richard : me, I was in great form at Queens. We saw each other every night and he really was in a hole.
For you Richard, itís your disqualification from the qualifying at the US Open 2004 ?
Richard : in all its horror, you canít get worse ! You throw a racquet, you turn around and you see the linesperson taking it with a look that could kill. In that moment, you pray to be somewhere else. I wanted to leave the US and hide (myself) in Paris as fast as possible.
Who is the best in English ?
Richard : Honestly, I think that weíre of the same level (at which Gael laughs). Wait, youíre not going to say youíre good ? Iíve heard you!
Gael : youíve made good progress but donít forget that Iíve had a bit of experience. I spent 9 months with an Australian girl and 6 months with an English girl
Richard : I didnít know you did that with them, but you mustnít have spoke much so the English hasnít stayed
Gael : I suggest you ask the ATP who expresses themselves better/the best and then weíll know.
Richard : Alright, we know that weíre better than Nadal, thatís the main thing
You have the same taste in girls ?
Gael : not really, no
Richard: Not at all, even!
Gael : We quickly agree on the hotties (?). But if the girl is a little average, not at all.
Richard : on that point, we play fair, there is no competition
Video games ?
Richard : with/on football, Iím greatly on top
Gael : stop, I beat you on Xbox
Richard : I never play Xbox. I bet you greatly on PS2
Gael : I hold that he has beaten Carlos Moya, respect. But he lsst again against Wawrinka, that was a little more than ugly.
Richard : Frankly, there arenít a lot of them who are better than me. We are very nervous on the console, itís a butchery/masscare. I broke many of them. Paul Henri Mathieu as well. He even cut open his forehead once, after a defeat.
Have you done a lot of stupid things together ?
Richard : some things arenít easy to say/tell
Gael : Bah, weíre young, we do stupid things
Some getting plastered for example ?
Gael : AH, never a drop of alcohol, me, even on holiday/vacation. Thatís never appealed to me
Richard: I donít drink either (Gael laughs). Maybe a little with friends after team matches. In Serignan, thatís quite something tooÖ[/QUOTE]
And this is a translated article from L'Equipe, calling Gasquet, Simon, Jo, and Monfils the new Musketeers:
Gasquet, the artist
Consistent returns, solid serve which can bring him cheap points, able to go with the pace from the baseline and to hit sudden winners, sharp volleys: very complete, the BH being particularly outstanding. An all-surface player.
Top 10 by the age of 21, he was the youngest Frenchman ever to qualify for the TMC. Three highlights, apart from this 5 titles: his finales in Masters Series (Hamburg 2005 and Toronto 2006) and his semi-final in Wimbledon 2007. The common denominator: he lost all 3 matches to Federer. Three big wins: against Federer again (QF MC 2005), Haas in Davis Cup (2006) and the comeback from 2 sets to love against Roddick in Wimbledon.
Often playing too far from his baseline, he seems hampered by too conservative gameplans. Peyre: "Richard is an artist. It's important to not imprison him. Once he'll find back to his aggressivity on the first shots, he'll be dangerous." The FH isn't always elegant and he could improve his footwork. Not as weak physically as some might think, but he hasn't always focused enough on that part of the training and is about to pass a milestone in that regard. Awaited as a genious, he carries the burden of impatient expectations and has a hard time coming up to them. Because he hasn't the mentality of a winner and the cold, determined character of the champion.
Not out-going. He doesn't shun his responsibilities. Even when there are controversies about him, he never withdraws from a briefing with the media. An endearing young guy who partly remains a mystery, even for his coaches. He's been criticized for being too individualistic in Davis Cup, but he isn't the kind of guy who will play a mean trick on somebody behind his back. He hasn't assimilated yet the fundamentals of the leader he's going to be in the future. His strength of character allowed him to get over some falls in the rankings after injuries. But his withdrawals in RG and Bercy haven't helped his reputation of being fragile.
HIS OTHER HOBBIES
He has no excessive hobbies and is not fond of a style of music in particular. He's close to some football and rugby pros in Paris and attends the matches as soon as he can. We can say it now: he woke up at 4 in the morning to watch the rugby match France-NZ just before his final in Tokyo last year. For the rest, he likes hanging out with his friends in Paris or Sťrignan. A quiet life.
WHAT HE THINKS OF THE OTHERS
"Jo and GaŽl are my two best friends. I really could go on holiday with them. GaŽl is so funny with his FH from 3 meters behind the baseline, his 2nd serves at 200 km/h, his sliding... That said, he has really calmed down. The show was harming him. He's really surprising... Jo has a huge serve. He moves forward, he's very present during the rallies. Very solid, really. Both have a great natural advantage with their stature. An African and a guy from the islands! As for Gilles, I'm not surprised at all by what is happening to him. He has a big potential, a feel for the game, he runs everyhwere and doesn't make errors... The first word which comes to my mind is 'smart'. A very clever person. He's friendly, polite, not moody. He has always played a lot of tournaments and that's a strength."
WHAT HE KNOWS ABOUT THE REEL MUSKETEERS
He knows RG was built for them, which is impressive. They've written the story of French tennis and as such, it concerns them too.
WHAT THE OTHERS THINK OF HIM
Gilles: Richard is a very, very big player who just needs to blossom. It will probably do him good we're now up there with him. People haven't acknowledged Richard's achievements enough last year. It's never enough for them. They expect him to be the new Federer, but I don't think he will. Richard should have told all these people: "I'm doing my job and to hell with you".
GaŽl: Richard is an extremely nice guy, very open, one of the biggest talents on the tour. I love his style of game. Some of his shots are coming from nowhere. A rivalry between us? Ne-ver!
Jo: Richard is Ronaldinho, GaŽl Adebayor, Gilles Chris Waddle and I'm Drogba. Richard has some genius in his racquet and can play surprising shots from anywhere on the court. I also like his sincerity. He will always say what he thinks. A personal message? "Stop teasing me with the driving license, may I remind you that it took you longer than me to get it?"