This Sunday, October 4 at Roland-Garros marks an important day for Caroline Garcia and Hugo Gaston. The first is against world number 6 Elina Svitolina with the goal of reaching the quarter-finals. As for the young Hugo Gaston, after his feat against Stan Wawrinka on Friday, he challenges the world number 3 Dominic Thiem.
Garcia for a flashback
Only Svitolina separates Garcia (45th in the world) from a second Grand Slam quarter-final, three years after that already reached at Roland Garros. The Ukrainian blocker is in good shape: she won in Stasbourg at the dawn of the Parisian Grand Slam.
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But the 26-year-old Lyonnaise can draw from some of her best memories for reasons to believe. In their face-to-face, it is she who leads three victories to one. Her three successes date back to her boom period, between late 2017 and mid-2018, when she had signed her famous double Wuhan-Beijing, reached the last four of the Masters, then climbed to the foot of the world podium (4th in September 2018).
In Beijing as at the Masters in 2017, then in Stuttgart in the spring of 2018, Garcia had each time lost the first set before defeating Svitolina.
The opportunity to come back to the fore
“Each time, the script was very hooked, she recalls. It is an opposition of styles. Each time, I enjoy playing against her, because until the end, each point will be hard. It’s really a game that I really want to play. It’s up to me to have confidence in my game, in my attacking identity. “
Her attacking game, in fact, has gradually been put in place over the past few weeks, under the effect of a reconstructed physique and a more positive state of mind, legacies of her studious confinement in Manacor, in the Balearic Islands, on the land of Rafael Nadal.
Her convincing victory against the Czech Karolina Pliskova, world number 4 in the second round of the US Open in early September had brought her back into the limelight. This match is the occasion for her to confirm her return to the foreground.
Gaston on fast forward
In the foreground, Gaston broke into it by offering himself Stan Wawrinka, former world number 3 today 17th and triple winner in Grand Slam, in five sets on Friday. At the end: his very first round of 16 in a Grand Slam, from his first participation in Roland-Garros. It is now up to the Austrian Dominic Thiem, recent winner of the US Open and outgoing double finalist Porte d’Auteuil.
Last Habs competing in the men’s table, the Toulouse left-hander, 239th in the world and has been 20 years old for a week. He became the fourth youngest French player to reach the second week of Roland Garros, after Thierry Tulasne, Fabrice Santoro and Gaël Monfils, but ahead of Yannick Noah. And he will settle at least at the gates of the top 150 after his breakthrough in Paris.
“I’m not going to put pressure on myself”
“He has this ability to adapt, to have a little detachment from events which makes him manage to produce his tennis and his potential”, observes his trainer Marc Barbier.
His tennis, the public discovers it with surprise and delight. Because despite his 1.73m which makes him the second smallest player at this stage of the tournament (Schwartzman measures 1.70m), Gaston handles the racket with his left hand with a brio that made Wawrinka dizzy. “This creativity must be at the service of performance. There is no artistic note in tennis, just a note of efficiency ”, emphasizes Barbier.
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Despite his brilliant career, Gaston remains almost impassive, desperately calm for observers. “I am not going to put myself under pressure, and I will try to play like today (Friday), released”, he simply commented on the idea of challenging Thiem.
“It’s his character, his education, the climate that we try to maintain around him: whatever his performances, he is a tennis player, it is only sport. So we don’t take ourselves for someone else barber frame. We try to live it as calmly as possible and we make sure that our feet touch the ground and that the head remains between the two shoulders. “ Even though the spotlight is now on him.