It will be France vs France in the Rosmalen final, with Jeremy Chardy facing off against Richard Gasquet. Gasquet, as a former top ten player, will head in to the match as the favourite, with his graceful one-handed backhand providing him with a strength with Chardy simply doesn’t have. Chardy, however, is capable of playing impressive tennis, and will give himself every chance against his fellow countryman.
These two have met on five occasions over the past decade, and though they have generally been hard-fought battles, Gasquet has triumphed in four of their five matches. They have already met twice this year, at the Miami Masters and the Monte Carlo Masters, and split the wins. In fact, Chardy won his solitary career match against Gasquet at the Miami Masters with a 7-5 6-1 win, before Gasquet returned the favour just three weeks later with a 6-4 7-6 win in Monte Carlo.
Path to the final
Gasquet has had things a little easier than Chardy, but his run hasn’t been without its challenges. Things started off smoothly, with his customary first round bye as a one the top four seeds before he beat Evgeny Donskoy 6-2 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals. There he faced Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and just managed to escape in straight sets, winning 7-6 7-6. His semifinal was against the enigmatic Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic, who he beat in three sets 6-4 6-7 6-2.
Chardy hasn’t had a single easy match on his way to the final. He was perilously close to losing in the first round, defeating Guillermo Garcia Lopez 6-4 6-7 7-6, before beating fellow Frenchman and top seed Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-4 in the second round. He then faced wildcard Mackenzie McDonald in the quarterfinals, narrowly escaping with a 6-4 4-6 7-6 win. His semifinal matchup was against Australian Matthew Ebden, and he won in two tight sets, 6-4 7-5.
How do they match up?
If Gasquet is to take this match, it will likely be in large part thanks to his backhand. His single-hander is one of the smoothest and most effective in tennis history, and has played a major role in his career success. He is also a capable player at the net and moves well, though he could benefit from a more aggressive game style. What holds him back is his lack of power on his forehand side, with the Frenchman weaker on that wing than most of his colleagues on Tour.
Gasquet will thus look to engage in crosscourt rallies on the backhand side, with his strength on that side being matched by Chardy’s weakness. The lanky Frenchman has a vulnerable two-handed backhand, and will prefer to get onto his forehand side as often as possible. His forehand is flat and powerful, with his long arms enabling him to generate significant speed from this wing and it should move through the grass court quickly.
Chardy is often criticised for an apparent mental vulnerability, but he has managed to work his way out of a number of close matches this week. Despite this, Gasquet has him covered for skill, and should be able to get the job done. It won’t be a match littered with winners, with neither player having the most aggressive game style, but it will be Gasquet able to grind his way to a three set victory.
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