x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Gasquet is ready for 'a lot of noise'

The gifted French player will play Andy Murray, the local hope, in the fourth round of Wimbledon.

LONDON // Richard Gasquet would have done well to spend his day off yesterday tracking down a pair of earplugs in Wimbledon Village in preparation for his tantalising fourth-round showdown with Andy Murray.

Three years ago the duo also clashed at the All England Club at the same stage and the one abiding memory Gasquet has of that encounter is the deafening roar that greeted every winning shot produced by Murray.

"I remember the crowd were very impressive. We're told all the time, the English, Wimbledon, it's quiet. But it was incredible. A lot people were cheering for him," the Frenchman recalled of the five-set defeat.

"I remember the third and the fourth and the fifth set it was very difficult for me to play, because there was a lot of noise."

If Gasquet thought the noise was unbearable three years ago, his eardrums might burst today when 15,000 cheering fans on Centre Court, along with the rest of Britain, will be backing Murray to get one step closer to ending the home nation's 75-year wait for a men's champion.

Murray, the world No 4, at least, has fond memories from their last grass court meeting as he fashioned one of his greatest comebacks from two sets down.

"That was probably the first one that really was a big comeback from me," the Scot said, recalling the 5-7, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 win. "I think there was a lot of sort of interaction with the crowd. They really got behind me. It makes a big difference."

Since that win, Murray has shot up the rankings and contested three grand slam finals while Gasquet has failed to live up to his immense talent.

But despite the gulf that now separates the two contemporaries, Murray did not want to dismiss the threat posed by Gasquet, who has reached the last 16 without dropping a set. As for Gasquet, he said: "I have for sure nothing to lose."