As the last home player left in the singles draw, Richard Gasquet hopes a partisan crowd will help cheer him to victory in his first French Open quarter-final when he takes on Britain’s Andy Murray on Tuesday.
Spectators, mostly Gasquet supporters, turned up the volume on Sunday as the sweet-swinging 29-year-old slugged it out with his last-16 opponent, fifth seeded Kei Nishikori, on a packed Court Philippe Chatrier.
“The crowd is always important. (It was) like a Davis Cup match for me,” Gasquet told a news conference after winning in four sets against a player who had beaten him twice this year on clay.
“It’s always important to have the crowd cheering for you… and I admit it made a big difference for me… And of course it will be the same on Tuesday.”
With his trademark single-handed backhand looking well grooved as he battles for a place in the last four of his home slam for the first time in 13 attempts, Gasquet will also take some comfort from his three career wins over the Scot.
“I think that he is one of the biggest fighters on the court… He’s in the best physical condition on the tour with (Novak) Djokovic (and) of course he’s high on confidence,” the ninth-seeded Frenchman said.
Second seed Murray, who has begun moving through the gears at Roland Garros after being taken to five sets in his first two matches, has won their last five encounters and seven out of 10 in all.
He also holds a 4-0 record against Gasquet in grand slam events, having prevailed twice at Wimbledon and twice in Paris, including a comeback from two sets to love down.
“(That) was in the first round on (court Suzanne) Lenglen, which was a pretty tough …match. I managed to sneak through,” Murray said of that 2010 encounter.
After Sunday’s straight sets win over American 15th seed John Isner — his second match in a row against long-limbed big servers — Murray might relish a different type of challenge against the more nimble Gasquet.
“Obviously the atmosphere will be tough, but I don’t mind that. I played a number of times against French players here in difficult atmospheres and I managed okay,” he said.