At 37 years old, Marc Gicquel is the oldest man in the Wimbledon Qualifying Men’s Singles draw but he defied the advancing years on Tuesday to sweep past Hiroki Moriya for the loss of only four games and advance to the final round.
The Frenchman was giving away 14 years to his Japanese opponent; nonetheless he was swift of foot and took just 55 minutes to polish off the match 6-3, 6-1 in a contest which, on paper, suggested it should have been a far closer affair.
Moriya is ranked No. 166 in the world – just seven places below Gicquel - but from the outset the 23-year-old struggled to find his rhythm in the gusty but bright conditions. The veteran simply needed to bide his time and wait for the inevitable mistakes that would be fly from his young opponent’s racket.
“I played a good match but he didn’t play so good,” Gicquel confessed after the match. “I think with the wind and with his game he played flat, it’s not easy to play his game with the wind…I like to slide on the grass, it’s unusual but I like it. My best weapon is my serve and I’m moving well.”
Being the oldest man in the draw is a tag he has become accustomed to. He was decorated with the title at the 2011 US Open where aged 33 he was defeated in the opening round by the youngest player in the draw – an 18-year-old Jack Sock. Gicquel is currently the oldest man in the top 200.
“I can play somebody who is 20 or 21, I try to show them that I can beat them,” he says, smiling. “It’s a good motivation for me and for them it’s not so easy to play a guy like me.”
So how does he hold back the years, and has his preparation and recovery period altered much since the early days?
“When I was 24 or 25, I could rest for 10 days doing nothing and later physically, I’m OK. I can run everywhere. But now at 37 if I don’t do anything for 10 days I need maybe two weeks to recover. I feel it. I don’t move well…and feel I need to do some skipping, running.”
Gicquel has a day off between now and his final round match and intends to hit for an hour and watch the remaining French women in the Ladies’ Singles.
“Four of them won today. I’ll enjoy the moment if it’s sunny. I won’t have a massage, just a little stretch because I need to now. I used to do nothing, but now at 37 I need some stretching.”
Elsewhere, the Americans enjoyed a productive afternoon. No.3 seed Tim Smyczek moved comfortably into the third round with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Italian Flavio Cipolla and will next face compatriot Alex Kuznetsov; former top-50 player Ryan Harrison swept aside Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-1, 6-3; while Denis Kudla defeated British hope Brydan Klein 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in an hour and 54 minutes.
Australians Luke Saville and James Duckworth were among the other winners on day two, along with the experienced campaigner Gilles Muller. The Canadian 11th seed Peter Polansky is out, beaten in straight sets by Miloslav Mecir Jr, the son of the 1988 Wimbledon semi-finalist.
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