- French hopes are flying high as unseeded Caroline Garcia and wildcard Hugo Gaston advance
- Slam champs advance as second week approaches
PARIS, FRANCE – An autumnal Roland Garros is bringing out the best in home-hopes as Caroline Garcia and Hugo Gaston enjoy prospect of a second week.
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Fly with Caro but next match could be bumpy landing
The pressure of a home crowd can be a blessing or a curse, and nowhere more so than at Roland Garros, where the passionate and knowledgeable crowd can pile on the pressure in their will for a home-grown champion.
Caroline Garcia is no exception – at times preferring the smaller, more intimate setting of Court Suzanne-Lenglen instead.
After her tough first round win over an in-form and seeded Anett Kontaveit, she said: “It’s more about the fact that it’s Roland Garros maybe that put [pressure] on us. Of course to be on Philippe Chatrier looks, seems very different. Actually, it seems different first of all because it looks completely different (smiling).
“When I walk in the first time like four days ago, I walk in and I was discovering a brand new court. So maybe the past memories that I had was not always great memory, didn’t come back as they came back normally. So I think that was point positive No. 1.
“And definitely to have of course maybe less people put less [pressure] but it comes, there is always a bad side, I will say, but it feels empty. Feels like you’re more by yourself than ever (smiling).
“But I think we have to take the positive, and we are playing Roland Garros. At least we have 1,000 people on-site and probably plenty of spectators in front of the TV. So let’s play and let’s enjoy it.”
It was another fight on her hands, this time against No. 16 seed Elise Mertens, who has only been to the fourth round once. Mertens made all the running in the first set, and it looked as through Garcia’s butterflies were fluttering all around again, but as errors racked up on the side of the Belgian, suddenly the momentum switched.
It would eventually take six match points to get over the line, and the small pocket of French fans certainly made it sound as though there were far more under the roof.
She said, after the match: “Of course when I was at like 5-4 40-15 I got super stressed. You know, either it’s a way you go for too much or you go for not enough. She’s a good player. If I go for not enough, she’s going for it.
“It’s always kind of balance. Sometimes you find it right away; sometimes not. But I think it’s the spirit of the game and what I can improve even more.”
Gaston stuns Wawrinka
Never has a Disney gif been more popular as Hugo Gaston muscled in on the Stan Wawrinka show to remain the most unlikely last Frenchman standing in the singles. Coming in as a wildcard, Gaston kept his head amongst the persistent raindrops that interrupted their match to register a five-set win over the 2015 champion.
Gaston, who had never won a tour-level match prior to this week, said, after the match: “I try to go in the court to believe I can win this match, with my coaches. I know it’s possible. It’s difficult. But when I’m going in the court, for sure I try to win the match because I want to play tennis and more games, more matches. For me, it’s very important to going in the court with the winning in the head.”
He earns a match up with Dominic Thiem next.
Business as usual for Slam champs
Simona Halep had something to prove after finding no answers to Amanda Anisimova last year. She saw her title defence disappear under a barrage from the American, but not only ddid that defeat fuel her to storm all the way to a Wimbledon title, she effectively shut down any kind of rhythm for Anisimova.
Halep said: “I have been more aggressive. I took the game in my hands. Last year I was very far from the court, and I played fairly short so she could play her game. When she has time and she has the ball in the right position, she is very, very dangerous and she plays great. So today I think I did a great job changing a little bit the tactic.”
She continued: “Every defeat is important in my opinion, because if you realize what you did wrong, you can get better. So, in my opinion, I got better after that match from last year. I was very disappointed, and if I remember really well because of the way I played; not because I lost the match. Because she was really, really strong at that time, but I let her play her best.
“So, in my mind was what I have to do better to get better in the direction of my game. So improved a lot, and definitely I am much better in many ways since last year.”
Thiem looked a little sluggish to begin with in his third-round clash with Casper Ruud, before putting pedal to the metal and advancing to the fourth round. Rafael Nadal has dropped just 19 games so far in his journey towards a record 13th title. Like Halep, he opted to skip the US swing and focus on preparing for the clay – and it is paying off. The heavy conditions have been a talking point all this week, and efficiency is the name of the game for the big names just getting the job done in the first week.
Play continues on Day 7 of Roland Garros at 11am (10am BST).
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