Veteran Richard Gasquet watchers might have been forgiven if they doubted, at the beginning of 2013, that he would reprise his role as a year-end Top 10 player. But the flashy Frenchman proved the doubters wrong, demonstrating a consistency that many doubted he would ever develop.
The skeptics had good reason. Undeniably gifted (he was the first if not the last player dubbed “Baby Federer”), Gasquet proved to be too mercurial for his own good. A spectacular shotmaker, he had too many lapses of inspiration to secure a firm place among even those Top 10 players stacked below the dominant champions. Gasquet posted his career-high ranking (No. 7) way back in 2007; after that, his year-end ranking fluctuated wildly between No. 8 and No. 52.
Revered by many fans because of his spectacular, one-handed backhand and undeniable Gallic flair, Gasquet finished 2013 with a 50-23 record and three titles—two more than he bagged in 2012. But big wins against the Grand Slam champs ranked above him continue to elude Gasquet, as does the breakthrough win at a Masters 1000 or Grand Slam event.
Ad-In: If Gasquet continues to build on his newfound consistency and develops greater stores of confidence against top players (he had only three wins over top 10 players last year), he could put enough of those beautiful backhands and bold forehands together to penetrate deeper into the draw at majors.
Ad-Out: If Gasquet is unable or unwilling to keep his foot on the gas, and fails to make a few key tweaks in his game, he could backslide to the days when he ran hot and cold. His biggest liability is how far back off the baseline he plays, considering how much time he needs to take those big cuts.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.