Pannu battles hard against French star Richard Gasquet

Monday, 09 January 2023

New Zealand wildcard KP Pannu has found French veteran Richard Gasquet too hot to handle in their first-round singles match on centre court at the ASB Classic. Gasquet has won 6-3 6-1 in an hour and 20 minutes.

Pannu is ranked 575 compared to Gasquet at 67. The Frenchman has spent the best part of two decades ranked inside the top 100 and has been as high as 7 in the world. But the gulf in class was not immediately evident as the Wellingtonian took it to Gasquet with some strong serving in the first set. Games went with serve until the 7th game when Gasquet broke and went on to take the first set in 42 minutes.

Pannu dropped serve in the third game of the second set and from there Gasquet took control and toyed with the Kiwi in the closing stages.

“It was an amazing experience. The Kiwi fans are awesome. That was the first time I've experienced a packed house. But there was a point where I lost my legs and tried to take a toilet break and change and get them back. But I couldn't and at this level, if you are out of gas and you run out of steam, there's just nothing you can do. I lost the rhythm on my serve and I couldn’t hang in there.” Pannu lamented.

Pannu had played a lot of matches leading into the Classic but admitted he wasn’t prepared for the intensity Gasquet brought to the court.

“I thought so but there are levels to this and Gasquet’s hitting angles every point and yeah, although I have played matches, I haven't played a match at this level. And, and it shows so going forward if I want to compete at this level, the physicality needs to get a lot better.”

“I just need to sit down with the Tennis New Zealand fitness coaches and just kill myself really in the gym. And that's what it comes down to. I thought I was prepared, but I just proved that I wasn't.”

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