“Try To Take Something From Him”: Hugo Gaston Reveals Idolizing Rafael Nadal While Growing Up

Published 03/27/2021, 4:25 AM EDT
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning the first set against Karen Khachanov of Russia during their men’s singles quarter final match on day twelve of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


Rafael Nadal is an idol for fans around the world, and French player Hugo Gaston is one of the many, many individuals who have sought inspiration from the King of Clay. Recently, the 20-year-old revealed that he grew up idolizing Rafa and has learned a lot from the Spaniard by watching him compete.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Last year, Gaston announced his arrival on the biggest stage by defeating Stan Wawrinka in an epic five-set match in the third round of Roland Garros. The Frenchman pushed Dominic Thiem, two-time finalist at Roland Garros, to the deciding set in the following match, but lost by a narrow margin.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – France’s Hugo Gaston celebrates during his third round match against Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka REUTERS/Charles Platiau

However, he proved his mettle at the Grand Slam level and used his signature drop shots to the utmost advantage. During his match against Thiem, Gaston hit a whopping 55 drop shots, out of which 40 turned out to be successful.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Gaston talks about the influence of Rafael Nadal

In an interview with ATP Tour, Gaston talked about meeting his icon, Nadal, for the first time during the Australian Open juniors and getting mesmerized by the man’s aura.

Being a lefty himself, Gaston mentioned drawing inspiration from Nadal’s mentality and always trying to pick something from his game while watching.

“He’s a lefty and I like his mentality. For me, it’s really nice to watch [him play] and I try to take something from him [as an example],” Gaston said. “[I met Rafa for the first time] during the juniors, maybe in Australian Open.

“For me I was a young player and to see Rafa just behind me was amazing,” said Gaston.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO: Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a forehand against Guido Pella of Argentinain their quarter final match during day six of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters at Monte-Carlo Country Club in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

After his break-out performance at the 2020 Roland Garros, Gaston achieved a career-high ranking of No. 157 in October. With the 2021 Miami Open currently underway, Gaston won his opening round match against Dominik Koepfer in straight sets.

However, Gaston bowed down to Jannik Sinner in the following match 2-6, 2-6. Now with European clay-court season starting in a few weeks, Gaston will prepare for the surface which has given him the best results so far.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Having withdrawn from the Miami Open, Nadal will compete in the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters, a tournament he has won an astonishing 11 times. With Nadal just one Grand Slam short of breaking Roger Federer‘s record, his entire focus will be on the Roland Garros trophy.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Kshitij Tayal

426 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

essentiallysports's Stories