by Armstrong Vas
Doha: Second seed Richard Gasquet (pictured) of France is targeting a place in the final of the Qatar Exxonmobil Open which begins here today at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
The 26-year-old, who begins his 2012 campaign at the $1m event by taking on a qualifier, wants to set the ball rolling for his campaign at the Australian Open later this month.
“I’m coming here to play well, to win some matches, to feel comfortable before Melbourne (Australian Open). It’s a big tournament here in Doha, so I will try to play well in this tournament and reach the final. I’m the number two seed in the draw, so I feel I to do it,” Gasquet said.
The Frenchman disclosed that the he is prepared for the tough challenges in the 2013 season.
“I tried to work physically a lot (during the off-season). That’s what I did for first four weeks. I think I’m feeling good,” he added.
Gasquet said the Qatar Open has grown in stature with each edition and is one of the best tournaments on the ATP Tour.
“I came (here) in 2006, and I lost to (Tim) Henman, long time ago. So the tournament grew up, much better, one of the best. I’m really happy to be here,” said Gasquet.
Besides reaching the Qatar final, the Switzerland-based Frenchman has set two New Year targets and is certain both are achievable.
The first one is to break into the top-five of the ATP rankings and the other is to improve his performance at the four Grand Slams.
“I want to play better in Grand Slams. I did fourth rounds this year, so I’m sure I can do better again (in 2013). A lot of fourth-round loss last year. (I) lost to (Andy) Murray, against the best player in the world. This year I want to play better against those guys, and why not to win (against) them and go farther in Grand Slams,” Gasquet said.
“I think I finished at No. 10 in the world (last season), so I’m sure I can go further. Not sure in the top 5; it’s tough. Good players between 5 and 10, but I feel I can do it,” he added.
Gasquet, whose best performance last season came on grass at Wimbledon, said his game is suited to all surfaces.
“I think I can play on every surface, every court. Yeah, it’s true last year I played well in Wimbledon.”
The six foot plus is not happy with his two-thirds match winning ratio of last year and wants to go a step further in the ATP rankings by winning more matches.
To increase the winning percentage Gasquet aims to control his emotion and use it in a positive way.
“It is important to have a big mental makeup. You know, (Novak) Djokovic, (Roger) Federer and (Rafael) Nadal have an incredible mental part. I try to reach that level. It’s tough, but for sure when you want to win these kind of matches, you need to have a big mental makeup.”
The Frenchman said Nadal is one of the biggest assets of the Tour and expressed confidence the former world No.1 will be able to overcome his injury concerns.