Day 6 Diary: Hugo the hometown hero

French wild card Hugo Gaston steals the show on a wild day in rainy Paris

Hugo Gaston, Roland-Garros 2020, 3e tour©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Ravi Ubha

Day 6 at Roland-Garros mirrored every other day so far — there was drama aplenty. Here’s what caught our eye from around the grounds.

Frenchman defies the odds

Not many would have given the last Frenchman standing heading into Friday, Hugo Gaston, much of a chance to keep on going.

The 20-year-old left-hander is in the early stages of his career, is ranked 239th and had never even faced a top-50 player before.

Yet, somehow, the wild card stunned 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka with a wildly good performance, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, in a rain-interrupted contest on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Along with American qualifier Sebastian Korda, they became the first men’s players ranked outside the top 200 to reach the fourth round at Roland-Garros since Arnaud di Pasquale in 2002.

“For me to play in Paris, it's fantastic,” said Gaston.

“I try to take the pleasure every minute, every time, and today I won. For the moment it’s a dream.

"Now I play the French Open. Before I always watching this in TV. Today I can play in these courts, so it's amazing for me."

So how did Gaston, who had never won a tour-level match prior to this week, find the confidence to take down a three-time Grand Slam champion like Wawrinka?

"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," he said.

"For me, it's very important to going in the court with the winning in the head."

The ride continues Sunday for the diminutive shot-maker against another Grand Slam winner, Dominic Thiem.

Sonego wins record tiebreak

The Italian men’s charge continues and in Lorenzo Sonego’s case, not in any old fashion.

He and Taylor Fritz played the joint longest singles tiebreak in Roland-Garros history, with Sonego winning it 19-17 in the third set to seal a 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (17) victory.

The 36 points matched Johanna Konta and Denisa Allertova’s first-round marathon tiebreak in 2015, edged by Allertova.

Sonego saved six set points in the tiebreak and converted on his seventh match point, finishing with a sublime drop shot before an almighty roar of exultation.

“Is the best tiebreak in my life for sure,” said Sonego.

Lorenzo Sonego, Roland Garros 2020, third round ©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Did we mention that Fritz broke a string in two different places hitting a serve while down match point at 15-16 and had to get a new racquet to deliver his second serve?

“It's crazy because I never ever break strings, and this was a completely fresh racquet,” said Fritz.

Bertens plays — and wins

When we last saw Kiki Bertens on court, she was being escorted off court in a wheelchair after beating Sara Errani in a three-hour, 11-minute slugfest. There were cramps to her left leg, right foot and both hands.

Bertens not only played Friday but overcame Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 6-2 in 58 minutes.

“I’m really happy that today, it was much shorter than the other one,” the fifth seed said. “I’m still recovering a bit but I think today was a great level.”

Swiatek’s surge continues  

Is this what you call connecting the dots?

Last year at Roland-Garros, Iga Swiatek took on Simona Halep and lost 6-1, 6-0 in the fourth round before the Romanian exited to Amanda Anisimova.

This year, Swiatek and Halep will meet again in the round of 16, after the latter downed Anisimova 6-0, 6-1.

Either way, don’t expect that scoreline.

“Right now I feel more experienced,” Swiatek said. “I know that it's going to be different.”

 Swiatek defeated a resurgent Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 Friday and has surrendered a mere 13 games in three matches.

Maybe her go-to song before matches is helping: ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ by Guns N’ Roses.

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2020, third round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

Svitolina serving notice

Elina Svitolina is back into the fourth round at Roland-Garros for the first time since 2017, when the Ukrainian made the quarter-finals and held a match point on Halep.

And after being broken a combined 11 times in her first two rounds, the third seed held firm to beat one of the game’s most aggressive returners, Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-4, 7-5. She was broken just once.

Svitolina reached consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals last season, so can she make another deep run in week two in Paris?

“For me it's important just to look for my next match and to not go and run too much ahead,” said Svitolina.

A gliding Svitolina faces Caroline Garcia on Sunday.

Podoroska’s magic numbers

It’s 20 and potentially counting for 131st-ranked qualifier Nadia Podoroska.

Her 6-3, 6-2 win over giant-killer Anna Karolina Schmiedlova marked the 23-year-old’s 20th win on clay since August.

You have to go back to 2011 and Gisela Dulko for the last time an Argentinean woman got this far at Roland-Garros.

For a spot in the quarter-finals, Podoroska plays Siniakova’s doubles partner, Barbora Krejcikova, who dedicated her comeback victory over Tsvetana Pironkova to her late coach, Wimbledon winner Jana Novotna. It would have been Novotna’s 52nd birthday on Friday.

Quote of the day

Casper Ruud fell to Austria’s Thiem in the third round but bore no grudges. He said he looks up to Thiem and loves Austria.

“Nice people, nice food, you have the nice schnitzel in Austria that I really like to eat, so I enjoy a lot Austria,” said the Norwegian 28th seed.

He remains hungry for even more success.

Shot of the day

This tweener lob from Ruud was a sweet parting gift before his departure from the tournament.