Despite never beating Rafael Nadal, Richard Gasquet receives plaudits from tennis fans as practice video goes viral

Rafael Nadal is slowly getting back to his best. The 36-year-old Spanish legend is nearing the end of his rehabilitative phase after he tore his psoas muscle during the 2023 Australian Open. The updates from him and tournament officials have gotten fans jumping in joy at the prospect of witnessing one of their favourite legends back on the tennis court.

Since Nadal declared that he would participate in the Brisbane International and  2024 Australian Open he has been training hard with different players, which his uncle Toni believes is the right gear for next season.

Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet’s practice session footage goes viral

Rafael Nadal has been undergoing intense training at his academy in Manacor, Spain, ahead of his comeback on the ATP Tour. Rafael Nadal last played a competitive game at the 2023 Australian Open, where he lost to Mackenzie MacDonald in the second round after sustaining a hip strain mid-match.

After being out of action for nearly 11 months, the Spanish legend is recovering from the injury, even though he has dropped out of the top 500 in the ATP rankings. He is currently the World No. 668. The 22-time Grand Slam champion will be back on the ATP Tour in preparation for the Australian Open; he will be playing at Brisbane International via a wildcard. The tournament begins on December 31, 2023, with Holger Rune and Grigor Dimitrov as the top two seeds.

Rafael Nadal has been engaging in intense practice sessions since October and recently had a hitting session with another veteran and longtime rival, Richard Gasquet.  Recently, the tennis legend was in Kuwait and trained with young Frenchman Arthur Fils at the Rafael Nadal academy in Al Zahra, Kuwait. The Spaniard showed glimpses of his former self with monstrous forehands and good movement on the court.

In 2014, Richard Gasquet trained with Rafael Nadal and had this to say about the Spaniard after the training session: “He has so much energy! He never stops, always wants to train and practice more. He wants to practice always for more than two hours, like two hours and a half, counting also the physical preparation. When you see that, you really do understand everything. The intensity he puts in each and every practice session is a normal thing for him, and Toni really doesn’t give anything away.”

Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet head-to-head

Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet have faced each other on the ATP Tour 18 times, with the Spanish legend winning all their meetings. The first duo meeting was at the 2004 Estoril Open in Portugal, where Rafael Nadal defeated the Frenchman 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the second round.

Rafael Nadal

With Rafael Nadal always showing a classic forehand against his riveal, their biggest meeting came at the 2013 US Open, where Gasquet was defeated 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-2. They met again in the third round of the 2022 US Open, with the former World No. 1 winning the contest 6-0, 6-1, 7-5.

However, the 2023 season has been one of consistency and not much struggle for Richard Gasquet. This season, he won his 16th tour-level title at the 2023 ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. Despite the form, he could not carry on that good form in further tournaments. His next best performances were a couple of quarterfinal appearances at the BOSS Open in Stuttgart and the Winston-Salem Open.

Will Rafael Nadal be able to win any other majors before he goes into retirement? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

Victor Okechukwu

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