I walked on to the court thinking I could beat Dominic Thiem: Hugo Gaston on Roland Garros thriller

Dominic Thiem, after defeating Hugo Gaston
Dominic Thiem, after defeating Hugo Gaston
Modified 01 Jan 2021

Rising star Hugo Gaston recently opened up about his titanic clash against Dominic Thiem at the 2020 French Open. The 20-year-old revealed that he was extremely confident of a win against Thiem that day, and explained how going down two sets helped him find his footing in the match.

Not many had given Hugo Gaston a chance to come out of his quarter at the 2020 French Open unscathed, but he very nearly did. The Frenchman began his giant-killing journey by knocking out the higher-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka in the second round, and followed that up with a sensational win over former champion Stan Wawrinka.

In the fourth round Dominic Thiem looked set to win comfortably after taking a two sets lead, but Hugo Gaston had other ideas. The youngster unleashed an array of spectacular drop shots that left Thiem utterly perplexed, and sometimes even amused.

Gaston took the match into a decider but ultimately failed to find a way past the Austrian, who won 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3.

During a recent chat with fellow pro Ugo Humbert, Gaston asserted that he genuinely believed he could beat Dominic Thiem in that fourth round match. The Frenchman mentioned that he was especially buoyed by the fact that he was playing in his home Slam.

“All the planets were aligned, I was in my tournament,” said Gaston. “I walked into the field thinking I could beat (Dominic) Thiem. Yes, yes, that I could beat Thiem.”
Dominic Thiem in his match against Hugo Gaston
Dominic Thiem in his match against Hugo Gaston

Dominic Thiem took a 6-4, 6-4 lead against the inexperienced Hugo Gaston, which didn't surprise anyone. But the 20-year-old revealed that since he hadn’t expected to face such a deficit against Thiem, he started trying out different things and using the support of the crowd to his advantage.

"I didn't expect to be there to be honest, but when I was down 2 sets to 0, I was like, 'Get it, try to do stuff, play with the crowd'," Gaston explained. "As my game was there, it (support) followed, it made noise in the stands and I tried to keep the suspense going. Above all, I didn't want to have any regrets."

Hugo Gaston attempted 55 drop shots in his match against Dominic Thiem

Hugo Gaston celebrates a point against Dominic Thiem
Hugo Gaston celebrates a point against Dominic Thiem

Hugo Gaston’s drop-shot strategy became a major talking point during the French Open. The regularity with which the Frenchman attempted - and successfully executed - the shot left both his opponents and the spectators bewildered.

In his match against Dominic Thiem, the 20-year-old made excellent use of the fact that the Austrian was camped well behind the baseline during most rallies. Hugo Gaston attempted a whopping 55 drop shots against Dominic Thiem, out of which he won the point on 40 occasions.

Gaston’s success even became an inspiration for World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who began using the shot a lot more frequently after the Frenchman's exploits. However, the Serb didn’t find as much success with it as the young Gaston did.

Published 01 Jan 2021
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