Gomez inspired by father's legacy in Paris

 - Alex Sharp

Emilio Gomez hopes to embrace the legacy of his father with a maiden run into the main draw.

Emilio Gomez Roland Garros 2020 qualifying first roundEmilio Gomez ©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“I’m feeling that father-son thing that Roland-Garros gives us. It’s important to do my best, just like he says.”

Roland-Garros is a unique and "special" place for Emilio Gomez. The Ecuadorian is the son of Andres Gomez, who lifted La Coupe des Mousquetaires back in 1990.

Now, the world No.154 is hoping to create his own path in Paris and he got off to the perfect start in men’s qualifying with a full-throttle 6-3, 6-2 victory over top seed Thiago Seyboth Wild.

“I remember him being here when I qualified in the juniors. Being here at the courts where he won is very special,” Gomez told rolandgarros.com, still waiting for a message of congratulations from his dad.

“I’m thinking outside whoever my dad is. Personally, to qualify it would be awesome. It’s one step at a time.”

Last year Gomez reached the second round of qualifying at Roland-Garros and he is determined to finally earn his maiden major main draw ticket.

“I’m 28-years-old, I’m not that young,” quipped Gomez, having recently made the second hurdle of qualifiers at the US Open.

“I believe in the qualies, you can beat anyone and everyone can beat you. The standard is so good, it’s a great level of tennis.

Emilio Gomez, Roland-Garros 2020, Qualifying first round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“I’m knocking on the door and hopefully this is my year. I’m not going to give up easily and that’s why I keep playing.”

Whilst some might be daunted by pursuing the same career of a successful parent, Emilio embraces his father’s Parisian triumph. 

“When I was younger, 10, 11, 12 I didn’t know much about it. They’d interview him and I was like ‘who is this guy?’" he recalls.

“I’ve been lucky enough to make it. I know I’m not a top player like him, but I enjoy playing tennis, coming here every year. I’m still enjoying it for myself.

“There aren’t many sons of ‘big’ players on tour, like Casper Ruud, so I’m carrying that legacy for the family. It’s nice and extra special whenever you play tennis, especially here.”

Debutant Australian Aleksandar Vukic pulled off an astonishing comeback from two match points down to navigate past Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 earlier on Monday. 

Alcaraz, coached by former world No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, served for the match at 5-3 in the second set, before Vukic excelled as the front-runner in the decider.

Oscar Otte, fresh from back-to-back Challenger finals in France (winning Aix-en-Provence), continued his hot streak with a battling 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 passage past Slovakian Lukas Lacko.

On the comeback trail

Rewind to 2015 and Jack Sock took a set off Rafael Nadal in the Roland-Garros fourth-round. The American is fighting back up the rankings following two injury and Covid-disrupted seasons.

Sock ignited his qualifying quest with a 6-2, 6-4 scoreline facing Denmark’s Mikael Torpegaard.

“It feels good, straight sets in qualifying, it can be a long week ahead. I was happy with the way I dictated with my forehand, pushing him around, with a lot more positives than negative,” claimed the 27-year-old.

“The lockdown was ‘round two’ for me after most of last season out injured away from tennis, getting ready to get back out. I used a lot of the time to get organised with my wedding planning for December.

“On a personal side it was great, the happiness on that side definitely translates to the work, practising every day. On the tennis and career side it was unfortunate, I made the final at the Indian Wells Challenger in March, I was building, but I’m just excited to be back out playing.”

Jack Sock, Roland Garros 2020, Qualifying first round.© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Boosting the home contingent hopes, France’s Enzo Couacaud stunned sixth seed Denis Kudla 7-5, 7-6(2) to book a second round encounter with Brandon Nakashima’s conqueror Juan Pablo Ficovich.

Meanwhile, the evergreen Ivo Karlovic, the oldest man in the men’s qualifying draw at 41 years of age, moved on to round two. The towering Croatian, who first attempted to qualify for Roland-Garros in 2002, outmanoeuvred Noah Rubin 7-6(1), 6-4.  

The gregarious and highlight-reel king Dustin Brown edged into the second round 7-6(4), 7-5 taking on 16th seed Sumit Nagal.

Sweden’s Elias Ymer sent out third seed Christopher O’Connell in straight sets, while veteran Tommy Robredo, Next Gen American Sebastian Korda, Robin Haase and second seed Pedro Martinez all tasted victory.