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BMW Tennis Championship: The French Connection

Posted on March 12, 2010 by JA Allen
Frenchman Gael Monfils is known for his pure athleticism on court.

Frenchman Gael Monfils who won the BMW in 2007 is known for his pure athleticism on court.

The French love it in Sunrise, Florida.  Since the tournament’s inception in 2004, a dozen top-ranked Frenchmen have participated in the BMW Tennis Championship Tournament, some coming back year after year.

The reasons they keep returning –– great competition, outstanding hospitality, appreciative crowds and hope for a great springboard into the rest of the season.

In 2007 a young up-and-comer Gael Monfils of France won the BMW Tennis Championship trophy, defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the final 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. Monfils’ pure athleticism and power made him a crowd favorite as he worked his way through the draw.

Monfils followed this triumph in Florida with a trip to the finals of the Hypo Group Tennis International Tournament in Poertschach, Austria where he lost to Argentine Juan Monaco.  During the semifinals at Poertschach, Monfils upset Lleyton Hewitt, seeded No. 4, having previously dismissed the No. 2 seed Andy Roddick in the 3rd round of this French Open tune-up event.

2007 proved to be a break out year for the young Frenchman as he moved from No. 59 in the world to No. 38 by the end of the year.  The confidence he gained winning in Sunrise culminated in further success for the talented Mr. Monfils.

Gilles Simon who played in 2005-2006 returns to action at the BMW in 2010.

Gilles Simon who played in 2005-2006 returns to action at the BMW in 2010.

In 2010 Frenchmen Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet, Jeremy Chardy, and Marc Gicquel are all accepted into the main draw of the BMW Tennis Championship Tournament.  Each of them is hoping that this may be his year to make a move up the ATP ranking ladder.

Gilles Simon, once ranked as high as No. 6 in 2009, has fallen back to No. 21 in the world due largely to an aggravated right knee injury that has kept him out of action, plaguing his successful return to the tour.

The Frenchman is known for his superb defensive game and his consistent and accurate backhand.   As Simon scaled the heights to No. 6, he added a deceptively deep and powerful forehand to enhance his defensive prowess.  A more aggressive offensive posture on court paid big dividends.

Now as he makes his third appearance at the BMW, Simon is hoping that 2010 will bring him much-needed success and will jump start his climb back into the upper echelons of the men’s tour.

Another Frenchman trying to reclaim former glory is Richard Gasquet, once touted as the next Roger Federer.  Currently ranked at No. 69, in 2007 Gasquet climbed to the world No. 7 spot due mainly to his semifinal appearance at Wimbledon after defeating Roddick in the quarterfinals during a 5-set thriller.  He lost in the semifinals to Federer as the Swiss went on to secure his fifth Wimbledon championship that year.

Gasquet has requested entrance into the 2010 BMW Tennis Championship.  Like fellow countryman Simon, Gasquet is in a rebuilding year after suffering an ATP suspension which was later reversed and then an injury.

Richard Gasquet is hoping to turn his year around in 2010.

Richard Gasquet is hoping to turn his year around in 2010.

Gasquet is hoping the American hard courts will improve his ranking and his confidence as the tour heads onto European clay just prior to Wimbledon grass.  A good BMW tournament in Sunrise could be just the shot in the arm Gasquet needs to spur him on to greater heights in 2010.

Another Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, ranked No. 44, enjoyed his best season in 2009 by capturing his first ATP title in Stuttgart.  That victory propelled him to a career-high No. 31 in November. Celebrated as one of the most improved men on tour, 22 year-old Chardy won 35 matches or 25 more than he had won the previous year.

So far 2010 has gotten off to a rocky start for the young Frenchman, although Chardy did defeat Fernando Verdasco in Memphis during the opening round and he did make it to the quarterfinals at Delray Beach where he lost to Mardy Fish.  Chardy will be seeking to do well at the BMW before he heads off to compete in Miami.

As the last Frenchman in the list of main draw entries, Marc Gicquel is a noted journeyman on tour.  He is currently ranked world No. 61.  At age 32, the Frenchman has played on tennis courts all over the world but enjoys the hard courts the most.

His biggest threat remains his serve and he can often cause even the top players difficulty.  Gicquel always desires to do well and prosper, ending his career with a significant win.  It could very well start at the BMW in Sunrise, Florida.

Sebastien Grosjean, who made it to the championship match of the BMW in 2008, has joined the French contingent so richly represented at the BMW Tennis Championship as a wild-card entry.  Alternate Arnaud Clement may be added to the French mix once the tournament begins on March 14.

Although final participants will not be known until first week action concludes at Indian Wells, chances are that once the tournament gets underway at the BMW Tennis Championship there will be additional surprises for assembled tennis fans.

But for sure on March 14, expect the French not only to have great representation, but to add to the excitement and the drama as the action unfolds in Sunrise.

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