I always try to learn from Rafael Nadal, my dream is to be the World No. 1: Hugo Gaston

Hugo Gaston enjoys watching Rafael Nadal play.
Hugo Gaston enjoys watching Rafael Nadal play.
Modified 26 Mar 2021

Talented French youngster Hugo Gaston recently revealed that he idolizes fellow southpaw Rafael Nadal, and that he often tries to draw inspiration from the Spaniard.

Hugo Gaston made waves at the French Open last year, famously ousting former champion Stan Wawrinka before taking Dominic Thiem to five sets. Many believe Gaston is destined to make a name for himself on tour, given his unique style of play.

The Frenchman is certainly on the right track when it comes to the people he takes lessons from. While speaking with after his first-round win over Dominik Koepfer at the Miami Open, Gaston spoke about how there's a lot to learn from Rafael Nadal's 'mentality'.

The 20-year-old also recounted his first meeting with Nadal, which he claimed was an 'amazing' experience for him.

"He (Rafael Nadal) is a lefty, and I like his mentality. For me, it’s nice to watch (him play), and I (always) try to take something from him (as an example)," Gaston said. "(I met Rafa for the first time) during the juniors, maybe in the Australian Open. For me, I was a young player, and to see Rafa just behind me was amazing."
Rafael Nadal is a source of inspiration for Hugo Gaston
Rafael Nadal is a source of inspiration for Hugo Gaston

Hugo Gaston's strategy at the French Open caught a fair few eyeballs. Gaston made full use of the fact that his opponents were camped well behind the baseline, and unleashed a series of inch-perfect drop shots to frustrate them.

Against Dominic Thiem, Gaston attempted a whopping 55 drop shots, out of which he was successful on 40 occasions.

Gaston explained that he has been relying on this tactic right from his days as a junior. The Frenchman mentioned that the conditions at Roland Garros weren't the easiest to pull off such shots in, but added that when presented with a chance, the drop shot is his go-to weapon.

"I always play a lot of drop shots, not only in Roland Garros but even back in juniors, it was the same," Gaston said. "Of course, the conditions at the French Open are really difficult, so for me, it’s really good to do this shot. I do a lot, a lot of drop shots. For me, it’s [been] a good shot, and I try to hit a drop shot when I can."

Hugo Gaston wants to emulate Rafael Nadal by becoming World No. 1 and winning a few Slams

Hugo Gaston dreams of becoming the World No. 1, just like his idol Rafael Nadal
Hugo Gaston dreams of becoming the World No. 1, just like his idol Rafael Nadal

Hugo Gaston is currently ranked No. 162 in the world, but he dreams of following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic by becoming No. 1 some day. Gaston also harbors hopes of winning a few Grand Slams, but fully understands the difficulty of the task.

"My dream is to be the No. 1 and in the top 10 and to take a lot of Grand Slams," Gaston said. "I know it’s really difficult, we have a lot of really good players. So I will try to do my best, and we’ll practice, and we will see."
Published 26 Mar 2021, 21:21 IST
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