We need more Hugo Gaston

by Jonas Eriksson

After his impressive five-set upset of Stan Wawrinka, I thought Hugo Gaston was done at the French Open. Surely, he could not beat Thiem?

In the end, the flashy and creative French player did not win, but managed to push the world number #3 to five sets! And the way he did it was very encouraging for the future. Hugo Gaston is quite short for a pro tennis player, 1.73 cm, (or 5’7), and cannot get the same power on his serve or groundstrokes as some of his taller opponents. We all know that Thiem can absolutely belt the ball with consistency over five sets. In fact, he does this day in and day out.

That is why it was nice to see Gaston completely change his strategy after losing the first two sets. Instead of trying to hang with Thiem from the back of the court, he started hitting drop shots, coming to the net, and mixing up the play. Thiem likes getting a rhythm from the baseline so this was not his cup of tea. And the Frenchman executed the strategy to perfection. Even Thiem described the drop shots as “from another planet” and looked pained as he had to rush towards the net over and over again.

Gaston won set 3 and 4 and found himself in another five-setter. In the end, Thiem has become such a class player that he did not back away or doubt himself. Instead, he kept hitting heavy shots and playing consistent tennis and managed to ride out the win by a narrow margin: 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-3 in a very entertaining match.

Will we see more of Hugo Gaston?

Let’s hope so! It’s refreshing to see a player who has the kind of “court craft” that Gaston has. He is only 20 years old, so he has time to improve his game a lot as well. It’s not going to be easy as he is currently #238 in the world and will need some more solid results before he can become a regular feature at bigger events. The tennis circuit is very tough also on the Challenger level, so it’s hard to say how he will do.

As a “not-tall” tennis player myself, I am really happy to see players like Hugo Gaston and Diego Schwartzman be successful. Tennis is dominated by taller players, but it’s not impossible to succeed while being 5’7 or similar.

Let’s hope we get to see more of Hugo Gaston.

PS. He looks to be playing a Wilson H22 pro stock in a Wilson Blade 98 V7 paint job. This is now available from Wilson Pro Labs.

What do you think of Hugo Gaston and his game?

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Manuel October 5, 2020 - 17:14

I don’t really agree with your analysis Jonas. I’ve seen the whole match and to be honest it became quite boring to see a dropshot every 2 points. Clearly in the 5th set, it was clear he couldn’t handle a rally ball. He gave the impression he didn’t know what to do so he was getting rid of the ball with a dropshot.
I think there is a lot of hype at the moment around him cause he reached the 4th round with a WC, but quite frankly I don’t see him going far. His win against Wawrinka was mainly because Stan is out of shape (loss in the 1st round in Rome). The very particular conditions of RG this year is another factor. I’m not sure it’s possible to play top50 or better with a 1sr serve around 160km/h and a second one at 125…
Almost every year there is a pleasant surprise with a player coming from qualifications or with a WC having some success in the main draw. My opinion is that Hugo Gaston is nothing more than this year surprise.
If you wanna see promising young players, you better look at Sinner, Shapo, FAA, Ruud, Rublev etc.

Hans Hagberg October 6, 2020 - 07:52

Amazing anticipation skills from Gaston. He seemed to be saving a lot of energy by being able to look into the future. He was hardly sweaty while Thiem started to look tired for a while.
All very entertaining and I hope this was not just a fluke. A lot of flair coming from french players at the moment.
Please make a journalistic piece on french training philosophy compared to EU and the US. They must be doing something different…

Most players have now adapted to using the full depth of the court by using drop shots systematically. We clearly need to separate drop shots as a new stats category among the others. In this years RG, drop shots are more common than net play for some players.

Kristoffer Selström October 6, 2020 - 22:42

Gaston played an excellent game. You can say he did this, and not that. He upset the US Open champion i five sets. Sure there are some critics who say that, we always get a few upsets.
Then Schwartzman defeats Thiem. He’s even shorter..
Now Sinner is upsetting Nadal. Really upsetting Nadal. There is a new generation of tennis Players emerging. And it is refreshing.
They don’t care about old Classic racquets. They find something that works, and bomb away.
Exciting years ahead if You ask me.


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