At Roland Garros,
Hugo Gaston is aware of going through “a complicated period”. Despite the warm support of court number 14, the 22-year-old Toulousain did not recover his health at Roland-Garros, which he left in the first round, after his clear defeat (1-6, 6-7, 4 -6) against Slovak Alex Molcan. During his press briefing in the process, the one who has been trained for two months by the former Moroccan player Younès El Aynaoui was quickly entitled to a question outside Roland-Garros. “Can we talk about the game before? “, he immediately cut. But a few minutes later, Hugo Gaston agreed to return to his act of anti-game, on April 28 in the middle of a match against Borna Coric (3-6, 3-6), during the Masters 1000 in Madrid.
Just before the Croatian landed a winning smash, the southpaw voluntarily dropped a ball from his pocket. The ATP perceived this episode as an act characterized as anti-game, with the aim of replaying this first set ball, which was not ultimately decided by the referee. Now determined to severely punish acts of anti-play on the circuit, the ATP initially sent Hugo Gaston a record fine of 142,000 euros. The penalty was then reduced on appeal to 72,000 euros, if no other offense is committed for twelve months by the young player, who has only accumulated 108,400 euros in prize money since the beginning of the year. This subject has necessarily occupied his thoughts for a few weeks.
How did you get through this month of May, where it was mainly about your gesture sanctioned by the ATP with a record fine?
I already want to clarify the situation. I did not express myself on the networks because I expected a question on this at some point. Many people said that I wanted to cheat. It’s wrong. Every tennis player has gestures that he cannot control. It was a gesture of frustration at the end of the first set. There have been recurrences of fines for me but never for a gesture like that. These are things that do not represent me. I apologized to my opponent but also to the Federation because it helps me on a daily basis. The match went very well after that, without any problems. At the time, the referee had not seen him. I recognize that it was not good, that it does not happen. But it was 100% an act of frustration, not an act of cheating. At no time would I have replayed the point. It’s part of life, we don’t always react correctly. I made a mistake, I paid, that’s how it is.
This amount of 72,000 euros surprised many on the circuit. French players like Corentin Moutet and Benoît Paire have taken offense to this in recent days at Roland-Garros…
I am the principal concerned so necessarily, I will not say that this amount is not sufficient. I think it’s excessive but we can’t control that. It was not the first time for me, I took some fines at the beginning of the year and the ATP increased them to make us understand… I understood a lot of things and that will make me grow. When you see that over a year, Challenger players don’t necessarily earn what I took from this fine, it’s complicated.
Do you feel like a Damocles sword hanging over you now? Do you regret not being able to let go as you would like to on the court, for fear of a new big sanction?
No, I’m not someone who gets angry quickly and takes warnings to all matches. I may have taken three warnings this year and all three cost me dearly. There are bound to be times when I’m going to want to break a racquet but I’m going to have to restrain myself, otherwise it’s going to be expensive (smile). I will have to be careful. But I have no worries about that because I know what I’m worth, what I represent. Everyone who knows me also knows who I am and where I come from.