French wildcard Hugo Gaston pulled off one of the shocks of the French Open on Friday as he dumped out 16th seed Stan Wawrinka in five sets.
Gaston, the world No. 239, has never been beyond the semi-finals of a Challenger but is now in the last-16 of a Grand Slam after stunning Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-0.
For a player who had lost his past four main draw matches at Challenger level, taking out a three-time Slam winner is a remarkable feat and his reward will be a meeting with recently-crowned US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
Gaston, 20, was in tears after getting over the line.
‘It’s difficult to explain,’ said Gaston when asked how it felt to knock out Wawrinka. ‘It’s fantastic. It was a great match. I’m very happy today, really.’
On facing Thiem next, he added: ‘I’m very happy to play against Dominic. He’s a fantastic player a great fighter. It’s a tough match for sure, but I try to take pleasure on the court and we will see.’
Wawrinka, 35, assessing his defeat to the 20-year-old, said: ‘I think was more myself.
‘My opponent played well all the match. He went for it I think. I wasn’t as aggressive as I started the first set.
‘I think I had many opportunities to come back in the second, to take the lead, and I was not tough with myself enough to play my game, to keep the line, and to be aggressive over and over and again and again.
‘Yeah, I had many opportunities that I didn’t take.’
It was a good day for players ranked outside the top-200.
Sebastian Korda, the world No. 213 from the USA who is the son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, defeated Spain’s Pedro Martinez Portero in four sets to set up a fourth-round meeting with Rafael Nadal.
Nadal is Korda junior’s idol and he even has a cat named after the Spanish world No. 2.
‘I mean, he’s my biggest idol,’ said Korda. ‘He’s one of the reasons I play tennis.
‘Just watching him play, unbelievable competitor. Just from him I have the never-give-up mentality. Whenever I’m on court, I try to be like him.’
‘Growing up, I named my cat Rafa after him. That says a lot about how much I love the guy.’
The news that there’s a feline named after him was put to Nadal.
‘Well, that means that I have been on the TV for such a long time, that’s the main thing,’ said Nadal. ‘The same like when I was a kid, I was watching [Pete] Sampras, [Andre] Agassi, Carlos Moya, et cetera, et cetera, no?
‘Another negative thing that mean is that I am 34. That’s another point that is not beautiful. But, yeah, happy to hear that. I know he’s playing great. He’s a very young kid with a lot of power. I think he has an amazing future – hopefully not yet.’
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