Richard Gasquet turned back the clock with a vintage display in Saturday’s ASB Classic final to claim his first ATP Tour title since 2018. The 36-year-old Frenchman stunned second seed and former Auckland resident Cameron Norrie 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, winning the final five games of the match to become the oldest champion in the event’s 66-year history.

“It’s an amazing title for me, especially now at my age,” Gasquet said in a post-match press conference. “I really didn’t think I would win again.”

The former World No. 7 last raised a tour-level title more than four years ago in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The Auckland triumph, which lifted him 25 spots to No. 42 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week, is just the second outdoor hard court triumph of his career (Doha 2013). It is the 16th title of his decorated career.

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“I didn’t think I would win the title,” Gasquet revealed. “Last time I won was in 2018. I’m 37 this year, so when I came here last week, if you were to tell me next Saturday you will win here, I wouldn’t believe it.

“It’s incredible, especially [after falling behind in the third set] 3-0, 0/40 for him. It’s an incredible match for me.”

Gasquet denied Norrie a full-circle moment at the tournament he once attended as a young fan, with the Briton thwarted in the final of the ATP 250 for a second time in five years. The defeat is his first of the new season, dropping him to 6-1 on the year.

In a matchup that pitted Gasquet’s iconic one-handed backhand against Norrie’s flat two-hander, the Frenchman proved he still has plenty of substance to go along with his style. Both men had countless opportunities to hit groundstrokes off both wings across many marathon rallies, but it was Gasquet who stood tallest down the stretch after falling behind 0-3 and 1-4 in the final set.

“I played a great third set,” he said after winning the fourth match of his Auckland debut appearance. “I didn’t miss a shot after 3-0 and I managed to win. I performed on my serve with a lot of pressure. I’m really happy, especially winning against Cameron, who is one of the best players in the world.”

Against a man known for his fitness, Gasquet was electric in his late charge as he attacked with the shotmaking flair that has defined career — but only after his dogged defending brought up those opportunities to step into the court. 

His victory keeps the Auckland title in French hands, after Ugo Humbert won the previous edition of the event in 2020. The tournament was not played in the past two seasons due to COVID-19. Humbert will now be Gasquet’s first-round opponent on Monday at the Australian Open.

“Now of course I have nothing to lose in Melbourne,” said the veteran.

World No. 12 Norrie, whose six wins lead the ATP Tour on the young season, falls to 4-8 in tour-level finals. He reached his first final in Auckland in 2019, falling to Tennys Sandgren.

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