It had been more than three years, since his semi-final at the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati in 2019, that Richard Gasquet (91st ATP, 36 years old) had not chained three successes in a row on hard outside. On Wednesday, in the third round of the ATP 250 tournament in Winston-Salem, he remedied this anomaly by disposing in difficulty of the American Steve Johnson (115th, 32 years old), after a duel disputed in high humidity and without true common thread (6-7, 6-4, 6-3 in 2h07).
First winner of 16 of the first 19 points of the match, the French led 4-0 while the American seemed terribly clumsy. But Gasquet gradually loosened the grip at the same time as Johnson found the right rhythm, between his cottony cut backhand and his heavy domed forehand. A break, then two, and a tie-break which escapes on the wrong side, for the Biterrois (7-3).
Three timely double faults
Dripping, lacking percussion, too often fishing, taking out his legendary cap for a few moments on the return, Gasquet stayed afloat by dismissing two break points at 1-1 in the second set, then winning rather easily his commitment up to 5-4 for him. And while he had only scored a single point on the return in this set, Gasquet watched Johnson offer him extra time by accumulating three double faults in this tenth game alone.
At 2-1 in the third set, Gasquet again snatched the opposing serve then rolled this time to the end. This success will allow him to refine his preparation for the US Open during a quarter-final in Winston-Salem which will oppose him Thursday to the winner of the match between the Serb Laslo Djere (89th) and the Australian Jason Kubler (116th) . Nothing insurmountable.