Frenchman Richard Gasquet is set to compete at Roland Garros for the 18th time, and he will begin his run on Tuesday against countryman Hugo Gaston. 

Before the match, caught up with the former World No. 7 to learn more about his life on the ATP Tour, from the game he plays on the road to how travel has changed for him over the years.

What is a non-tennis item you always pack for trips?
Cards. We play a lot of cards. We play a French game called Belote. We play it for two or three hours a day with my coach and some other French players. That’s important for me.

What item did you forget to bring one time that caused you distress?
[I do not forget] so much. I’m very careful, especially with my passport. That’s very important when you travel. My phone and other things I’m very careful with.

Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?
It depends on the place. I like to go to New York for the US Open and even London for Wimbledon. In France, I like to of course go to Marseille and Montpellier, those kinds of tournaments. I know many people there, so I’m very happy to go.

It depends where I have to go. Now it’s starting to be difficult. Long travels like to Australia — of course I’m very happy to be in Australia — but to travel, to do 22 hours is going to be more and more difficult for me.

Can you talk about a time you decided to play a specific tournament in part because you wanted to travel to that city?
I have not done that so much. But when I have to come back to New York, when I go to Miami, even Tokyo [I like those places]. I’m very happy to go to Japan. I prefer to play in Japan, so that’s why I go there.

As a tennis player, maintaining your body is of the utmost importance, so how do you take care of it during long trips?
Now it’s starting to be more and more difficult. I’m going to Australia and I need five or six days to recover [after the trip]. Before, when I was 20 years old, one, two or three days was okay. But now, it’s difficult for me to recover after a long trip.

How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimate to the local time zone?
It’s the same as travel. It is a little bit more difficult. When I was younger, it was easy. The day after I was ready even if I had a long flight. Now it’s more and more difficult and that annoys me. That’s a little bit tough for me.

You mentioned before that you play cards. What else do you do to create a sense of ‘home on the road’ to feel more comfortable?
[In normal times] we go to restaurants to go to dinner, go sightseeing a little bit. I like to do it, but of course now with the situation that’s tough. 

Where is your favourite vacation destination?
I don’t go far. I go to the south of France because I was born there. I like to stay home because I’m travelling a lot.

What’s your trick to be comfortable during a flight?
I try to have a good book. It’s important to read on a plane because it’s long. Sometimes I take a sleeping pill when it’s a long flight because I [can’t] sleep on the plane. Some players sleep easily, but for me it’s very difficult.

Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?
I’ve never missed a flight. I’ve been playing a long time. For 20 years I’ve been on the Tour, but I’ve never missed a flight. I like to get there early.