How Richard Gasquet enjoys playing on the hallowed turf of the All England Club. The Frenchman continued his love affair with SW19 by reaching the second week of the Championships for a fourth time in succession, by downing Nicolas Almagro in a match that was far more straightforward than had been suggested on paper.
Gasquet has won 17 of his 23 matches at Wimbledon, more than any other Grand Slam, and will feel he has a real chance of progressing to the very latter stages of the competition on this evidence of this devastating destruction of his fellow seed.
The overall margin of victory 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in just one hour and 38 minutes told the story of the No. 18 seed’s overall dominance. Of 17 victories at Wimbledon, he has now won 14 in straight sets, and all three at this year’s tournament so far without losing a set.
It was Gasquet’s first ever senior victory against Almagro in four attempts, and the Spaniard came into this contest with high hopes himself in one of the first battles of seeds at the 2012 Championships.
The higher seeded Almagro (No.12) is more accustomed to red clay and Gasquet’s greater grass-court pedigree helped him dominate right from the off.
Gasquet was prepared to attack the net and took an early break to lead 2-0, barely breaking sweat to beat the Almagro serve to love at the first time of asking.
He was not tested as he closed out the opening set in double-quick time – 28 minutes – and pattern of the match continued in the second set.
Gasquet, who was knocked out in the fourth round by Great Britain’s Andy Murray last year, broke Almagro’s serve again to lead 3-2 but the Spaniard began to fight as the set wore on.
Gasquet needed to produce some big serves to prevent Almagro finding a way back, saving two break points from 4-3, before closing out the set.
The gulf in grass-court class was evident with Gasquet in firm control in the third set, although he had to wait until the seventh game before breaking with Almagro double-faulting at break point to ensure the last rites were sounded on his 2012 Wimbledon.
Gasquet will now play Florian Mayer, the No.31 seed, in Monday’s fourth round as he looks to match his best ever Wimbledon in 2007 where he made the semi-finals. His form on grass makes him a danger whoever he plays and he could conceivably meet top seed and reigning champion Novak Djokovic if he is to back up this performance with another victory over Mayer.