Day 6 diary: Sonego on song with 'miracle' comeback

 - Alex Sharp

Italian has pulled off his first ever career victory from two sets down

Lorenzo Sonego, 3e tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Friday more than delivered at Roland-Garros, with battles back from the brink and an inspirational mum starring in the spotlight once again.

Here's what you may have missed...

Sonego finds the right tune 

In the short moments between coming off court and heading into his press conference, his phone was abuzz. This was a day to remember for Lorenzo Sonego.

The Italian reeled in world No.7 Andrey Rublev 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 to post his first Grand Slam top-10 win.

"It's probably a miracle!" he said. "I played my best tennis this year, but after one hour I was two sets down. It's an incredible comeback today."

The world No.48 has now matched his fourth round run here from 2020.

"I played every point with the right attitude and I managed to change everything," he added. "There was a lot of things in my mind, but I tried to stay focused every point and enjoy the moment.

"I received a lot of messages. Obviously, a big emotional moment for me, for my team, for my family."


The 28-year-old has had plenty of standout wins over the years, such as a triumph over then world No.1 Novak Djokovic in Vienna in 2020, but nothing compares to this four-hour rumble on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

"I think this is my most difficult win of my career, for sure," he said. "I never won a match two sets down, and this is best level in [my] entire life. I'm really happy for that."

Expanding his talents from the court to the studio, Sonego has released a couple of songs in the past two years.

‘Un solo secondo,’ released in June 2021, has received more than one million streams on Spotify. Maybe he'll be inspired by his winning exploits in Paris.

"I work for a new song, and I think in July maybe is a new song coming," Sonego told reporters. "Let's see if we do better than the first one. I don't know. Maybe."

The Italian is keeping the style of his next track a mystery: "It's a surprise."

Khachanov joy muted by Rublev loss

Sonego will meet Karen Khachanov in the last 16.

The world No.11 denied wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5) to earn his fourth-round ticket. This will be a sixth last-16 appearance in seven appearances at Roland-Garros.

"I fell to my knees because I didn’t know where my ball went, so I didn’t know how to react, to scream or not to scream. There was a lot of energy, a lot of stress, so much was going through my head," said a relieved Khachanov.

"I'm sad for Andrey, because he's one of my best friends. I saw their fifth set, it's painful for everybody. I was down a break in the fourth set, also nearly into a fifth, it proves that every match here is so tough.

"From what I saw he [Sonego] deserves the win, it was a crazy comeback."

Karen Khachanov, 3e tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

Svitolina straight back to business

Former world No.3 Elina Svitolina fended off Anna Blinkova 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 to head into the last 16 in her first Grand Slam since giving birth to baby Skai in October 2022.

"I take inspiration also from other women who gave birth, came back to tennis, or different sports as well. For sure, it takes a huge effort to do that," said the three-time Roland-Garros quarter-finalist.   

"Even we have Tatjana Maria who came back after two kids. It's really inspiring. I'm not sure I would come back after the second baby.

"It was already quite tough to come back, even though everyone tells me that it's quick, but I feel like it's been ages." 

Elina Svitolina, Roland-Garros 2023, third round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Svitolina, married to fellow tennis pro Gael Monfils, clicked into gear for Paris by lifting the Strasbourg trophy on the eve of Roland-Garros – coincidentally also against Blinkova. It's like she has never been away.

"I'm trying to take one match at a time, try to give everything what I have each match," added the world No.192.

"Like last two matches didn't go my way in the first set, but I tried to fight back, could push through these tough moments to find my rhythm back. This is good sign that I'm doing something right."

Svitolina now faces No.9 seed Daria Kasatkina.  

Flashback for Kasatkina

Earlier on Thursday, 2022 semi-finalist Kasatkina put in a flawless display 6-0, 6-1 against American debutante Peyton Stearns.

"Definitely the score was not showing what was happening on court. Everything was going my side, but the level of tennis was very high," said the world No.9.

Kasatkina debuted at Roland-Garros in 2016 and is competing in her 29th Grand Slam. But she still remembers that feeling of being young, inexperienced and anxious across the net from a more accomplished player.

"I catch one thought today during the match. She was on the other side, and I had exactly the picture of me, five or six years ago playing Halep on Suzanne-Lenglen being 22-years-old, being super nervous. Now it's reversed. So that was a little bit weird feeling," she said.

Daria Kasatkina, 3e tour, Roland-Garros 2023©Loïc Wacziak / FFT

During her downtime from pursuing Grand Slam success, Kasatkina enjoys a fulfilling distraction of filming her popular vlog series with her partner, figure skater Natalia Zabiiako.

She recently featured Mirra Andreeva, who meets Coco Gauff in the third round. "You will see her in the next vlog," she told reporters. "She wasn't shy at all. I was thinking to maybe interview some of the chair umpires because it's going to be very interesting...

"I was thinking to talk with Amelie Mauresmo here. So, Amelie, if you are listening to this, maybe we can arrange something. It's going to be fun."

Watch this space!