I don’t want to be a Gasquet apologist (he’s beyond help, in my opinion), but I do think the whole “is he or isn’t he” soap opera surrounding his participation in Davis Cup this weekend was a bit too melodramatic. It overshadowed what should have been the big storyline: the U.S.A.’s victory!
Here’s my take:
1. Yes, Gasquet should have stepped up and played Andy R. in the fourth rubber, if only to save face. And when you’re down 2-1 in Davis Cup, you gotta put in the player that stands the best chance of winning the next match. If you can make it to a live fifth rubber, anything can happen. That said, I’d still argue that Gasquet’s supposed insistence on playing the fifth rubber wasn’t a complete cop out. Let’s say he agreed to play Roddick and beat him. Then the fifth rubber would’ve counted. Who plays Blake in this scenario? Arnaud Clement, who’s 0-7 against James? Mathieu could’ve beat Roddick, considering he had match points against Blake on Friday, and then we’d all be calling Gasquet a hero for putting himself in the penultimate clutch position.
Here are the head-to-heads in question, which support the Gasquet strategy:
Blake/Clement: 7-0 (!!!!)
2. The French squad needs to go to one of those cheesy, American-style “team building” seminars. Either that or hire a PR manager. Guy Forget should have defused the negative speculation by saying,”If Richard is fit enough to play, we’re going to use him where we hope it will count the most.” Instead, he told the press “I’m not begging him. If he doesn’t want to play he won’t go out. ” He might as well have said, “Gasquet is a selfish, whiny diva who won’t play even though I got on my knees and cried. ” Also, Mathieu shouldn’t have shrugged in exasperation when the press asked about his teammate. Sorry guys, but it’s not cool to throw your teammate sur l’autobus, even if he deserves it.
3. Justin Gimelstob needs to zip it! He did the post-match on-court interview with James Blake tonight, after James won the dead fifth rubber against Gasquet. James was PC, as usual, saying something like “isn’t it nice for the fans to watch two top ten players in a dead rubber?” Justin countered, “It would’ve been really nice to see two top ten players in a LIVE rubber.” Wow, that was uncalled for. How was it his place to take an on-court dig at Gasquet and insult non-top-tenner P-H Mathieu and captain Guy Forget in the process? Save it for your BLOG, tennis genius!
I gotta say, I love Davis Cup more and more every time I watch it. And I’m really looking forward to the Spain-U.S.A. semifinal, which will obviously be a much different match up for Andy and Co. VAMOS, U.S.A.!!!