Gaston Ready For More Paris Success
There’s something about Hugo Gaston and Paris.
Prior to his first-round match against Alex de Minaur on Tuesday at Roland Garros, six of his 16 tour-level wins had come in the City of Lights. Two of his biggest career results have also come in Paris, a fourth-round showing at this event in 2020 and a quarter-final finish last year at the Rolex Paris Masters.
The 21-year-old, No. 74 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, appears primed to create more Parisian memories this fortnight. Gaston fought off cramps and an 0-3 deficit in the fifth set to delight a packed Court Suzanne Lenglen crowd with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) win over De Minaur.
”The crowd plays a very important role. They supported me right from the beginning,” said Gaston. “I like to share my emotions with the audience, so this helped me. This gave me strength, because it was not an easy task at the beginning and the end of the fifth set. But I used the crowd. They were fantastic, so it was a great moment.”
It seemed that De Minaur would prevail after winning nine consecutive games from the start of the fourth set. Gaston completely flipped the script behind his variety — especially with his drop shot — to serve for the match against the speedy De Minaur twice, at 5-4 and 6-5.
But cramps crept in during the last couple of games before the tie-break. Gaston shook out his legs repeatedly while serving at 6-5, then threw in an underarm serve at 15/40. Although he won the point, causing the crowd to erupt, he was broken again to send the match to a deciding 10-point tie-break. With the fans rallying behind him, Gaston dug deep for another big victory in Paris.
”I came to this Roland Garros with very few matches and some questions on myself,” admitted Gaston. “But my game level was always good. I felt very well on the court and I had a few problems that made it so that I didn't succeed. If it had been a loss, it would have been difficult to handle, but I gave my best and I'm very happy about the match.”
Gaston is still fueled by the memories of his two previous runs in Paris. He burst onto the scene two years ago at Roland Garros, when he reached the second week with a five-set win over Stan Wawrinka before falling to Dominic Thiem in an epic five-set battle. Last November, Gaston had his ATP Masters 1000 breakthrough by erasing an 0-5 second-set deficit against Carlos Alcaraz, winning 20 of the last 21 points to reach the quarter-finals.
But Gaston believes he’s a better player now than he was during his breakthrough two years ago. With a second-round match looming against Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin and no chance of facing a seeded player until the fourth round, the Frenchman has the tools to match his run and perhaps surpass it.
"I think my game is better. I feel more strong in my head, in my game and my physical [fitness] also,” said Gaston. “I think I'm also a good person and a better player, too."