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Ricky’s pick for the Auckland first round: Fils vs. Gasquet

It will be a battle between generations within the French Tennis Federation when Arthur Fils and Richard Gasquet go head-to-head in the ASB Classic first round on Tuesday night.

It is a rough draw especially for Gasquet, and it doesn’t come at a good time. Surprisingly, the veteran won this tournament at 36 years old last season and therefore has 250 points to defend. If Gasquet loses on Tuesday, he is projected to fall 55 spots down to 131st in the rankings.

Last year’s triumph in Auckland marked former world No. 7’s first ATP title since 2018 on the grass courts of ‘s-Hertongenbosch. Aside from that brief resurgence, things have mostly been going downhill for Gasquet. Fils, of course, is on the other end of the career spectrum at 19 years old and things are obviously looking up for him. He is up to No. 35 in the world and was ATP Newcomer of the Year in 2023.

Fils opened his season with a quarterfinal effort in Hong Kong, where he pushed Andrey Rublev to three sets. Rublev, the top seed, went on to take the title.

Although this will probably be a fun-to-watch all-French affair with plenty of entertaining shot-making, in the end it will likely be a mostly routine win for Fils.

Pick: Fils in 2

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.