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The Final Frenchman At Roland Garros: 20-Year-Old World No. 239 Hugo Gaston

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2020

#NextGenATP Hugo Gaston arrived at Roland Garros without a tour-level win and his best result on the ATP Challenger Tour was reaching a semi-final. Entering the third round, the World No. 239 is the last Frenchman remaining.

“Very happy to be in the third round. I wasn’t necessarily expecting it,” Gaston said. “But I managed to play very well, to stay concentrated from start to finish without putting too much pressure on myself. Therefore, I’m very happy with the result.”

Five Frenchmen inside the Top 50 of the FedEx ATP Rankings started the tournament, with 18 men from the country competing overall. But only 20-year-old Gaston, who earned victories against fellow wild card Maxime Janvier and Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka, made it to the Round of 32. That is tied for the fewest in tournament history (since 1925).

“Of course, I would like there to be more French,” Gaston said. “I’m not going to put extra pressure on myself because I’m the last Frenchman or not. I try to focus on what I am able to do. Of course, it’s better if there are several French, but that’s part of the game.”

The lefty, who takes his inspiration from Rafael Nadal in regards to how the Spaniard carries himself on the court, has nothing to lose, even if all French hopes are pinned on him.

The former junior World No. 2, who won the prestigious Orange Bowl in 2017, plays three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the next round. The 2015 champion is trying to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros for the ninth time.

“Stan is a great player, a great champion. I have a lot of respect for him. But when I return to the court, I’m going to do everything to win, being respectful, and then see what comes out,” Gaston said. “Of course I remember when he won here, I’m a fan of tennis in general, so I watch the sport a lot. Obviously, this final, I watched it, and it was very inspiring. But when I’m going to be on the court, I’m going to do everything to win.”

Pierre-Hugues Herbert was one of the last Frenchmen to fall, losing a tough five-setter against recent US Open finalist Alexander Zverev on Wednesday evening. Herbert was happy to see his younger countryman enjoying success at their home Grand Slam.

“It’s a good run for him. He’s a really, really nice kid,” Herbert said. “[He is] working hard and [he is] really talented on court. I’m really happy for him to be in the third round. I hope it’s just a beginning for him.”

Gaston knows he has a big opportunity against one of the best players of this generation. If the lefty springs the upset, the spotlight on him will grow even brighter. But he isn’t worrying about that, preferring to focus on what he can control.

“I concentrate on what I am able to do, on what I know I can do. I try to enjoy and to give everything. Afterwards, if I have the opportunity to win, I will try to grab it, but I don’t put any extra pressure on myself,” Gaston said. “I’m still pretty cool about it.”

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Preview: Will Djokovic Answer Nadal's Statement Win In The Second Round?

  • Posted: Oct 01, 2020

Rafael Nadal made a statement on Wednesday at Roland Garros, losing only four games in his second-round victory. Top seed Novak Djokovic will try to respond with a message of his own on Thursday when he plays Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis.

Djokovic will take confidence from a comprehensive straight-sets victory in the first round against Mikael Ymer. The Serbian only lost five games in his win.

“If you keep on winning, obviously with every match that you win, your confidence level raises a notch higher,” Djokovic said. “Obviously these conditions are different than what we are used to here [at the] French Open. Everyone has been talking about it. The balls, the heavy clay, the cold weather. It all affects the play, of course.

“But I think it’s quite suitable to my style of the game… I think generally the game is there. I’m ready physically, mentally, emotionally to go deep in the tournament. Hopefully I can have another successful year here in Paris.”

The 2016 champion beat Berankis 7-6(2), 6-4 in his first match of the ATP Tour’s return at the Western & Southern Open. He leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-0.

Novak Djokovic is unbeaten in first-round matches at Roland Garros.

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas did not have an easy first-rounder against Jaume Munar. Tsitsipas, who rallied from two sets down for the first time in that encounter, plays Pablo Cuevas on Thursday.

The Greek leads their rivalry 3-0, including a 7-5, 6-4 win against the Uruguayan shotmaker at last week’s Hamburg European Open.

“I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very difficult opponent to face, particularly on this surface,” Tsitsipas said of Cuevas in Hamburg. “He is a good friend and one of my idols growing up.”

Andrey Rublev (below), who like Tsitsipas rallied from two sets down in his opener, will face tricky Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina for the first time. Both players are Next Gen ATP Finals alumni. Davidovich Fokina showed his hard-court prowess at the US Open, where he made the fourth round. But he excels with the drop shot, which Djokovic said is a key in these conditions on clay.

“It’s going to be a very important shot in these conditions, because it’s just so heavy and so slow,” Djokovic said. “I think it’s a great variety shot, the drop shot. I think it’s important tactically to have it and to use it at the right time so that you can keep your opponent always guessing what is the next shot.”


Four Italians are already into the third round at Roland Garros, an Open-Era record. Seventh seed Matteo Berrettini can make it five when he plays South African Lloyd Harris for the first time. The 24-year-old made the third round on his tournament debut two years ago, losing against Dominic Thiem in four sets.

Ninth seed Denis Shapovalov is one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour, and he will try to keep his level high against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, whom he has never faced previously. The lefty, who made his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open, is fresh off a run to the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Denis Shapovalov

One of the matches to watch will be 22nd seed Dusan Lajovic taking on two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson. The South African has won their two previous clashes, including a three-set victory in the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals.

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