Paris | French celebrate Tsonga’s career and Gaston’s marathon win.

The third day of the French Open provided the packed Roland Garros home crowd with a high and an emotional low as they waved Jo-Wilfred Tsonga into retirement following his first-round loss to Casper Ruud.

It's difficult to live the moment that you're living. My eyes were all over the place. I didn't really know where to go. When I watch the images again afterwards, I will be very moved. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Unfortunately for the 37-year-old Tsonga, he was drawn against the Norwegian who is no slouch on clay but with the partisan crowd willing him on, he won the first set before he was hit by another injury – one more to add to the number he has suffered these past few years.

He had broken for a 6-5 lead in the fourth set but was unable to serve out, immediately calling for the trainer before the tie-break, taking a medical timeout for treatment to his right shoulder.

With the Frenchman unable to serve out, Ruud, the eighth seed, took control of the tie break to secure his place in the second round 6-7(6) 7-6(4) 7-2 7-6(0).

Tsonga, a former Australian Open runner-up and world number five, had announced last month that Roland Garros would be the last event in an 18-year-career, and, on his retirement, added tearfully on court: “It was pure madness today. One of the best atmospheres I have seen in my career, and it’s my last match.

“I couldn’t have asked for something better; I couldn’t have asked for a better script, apart from the fact that I could have won.

“When I was about to serve and I realised I couldn’t put my arm up, then I called for the physio. But I thought, ‘I’m going to stay on the court and finish off this match.’

“I wanted to finish this way, on the court, to do my best, injured or not.

“In any case, there would have been no second match, because I left everything on the court today.”

With a brass band blasting out ‘La Marseillaise’ at intervals, Tsonga had risen to the occasion, first of all by taking the first set and then nearly forcing a deciding fifth.

Casper Ruud embraces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after his victory which brought the Frenchman's career to an end.

Andy Cheung/Getty Images

And the organisers were prepared with a video tribute played inside the Philippe Chatrier stadium with family, friends and fellow players gathered to witness his retirement ceremony.

Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer — all players Tsonga beat at Grand Slams — sent their well-wishes in a series of video messages.

“I really enjoyed it. They are all very happy, because I finally managed to cry,” said Tsonga.

“Well, it’s a moment that is going to be in my memory, but it’s so quick when you’re in it.

“It’s difficult to live the moment that you’re living. My eyes were all over the place. I didn’t really know where to go. When I watch the images again afterwards, I will be very moved.”

Tsonga, unseeded, lost the 2008 Australian Open final to Djokovic and made the semi-finals twice at both the French Open and Wimbledon as well as finishing runner-up to Federer at the ATP Finals in 2011.

He also won Olympic silver in the men’s doubles alongside Michael Llodra at the London 2012 Games and was part of France’s Davis Cup team in 2017 and won two Masters title, Paris 2008 and Toronto 2014.

Gilles Simon gets his last campaign at the French Open off to a good start

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Another stalwart of French tennis, Gilles Simon, like Tsonga a wild card entry for this year’s major clay court championship, will be slipping into retirement at the end of this season and is currently playing his last French Open which nearly came to an early end.

He found himself in a lengthy evening match which didn’t finish until 1.00am local time, as Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta fought back from two sets down to force a decider where he led by a break before Simon hit back to win 6-4 6-4 4-6 1-6 6-4.

“It was a crazy match, an unexpected win,” Simon said. “When you’re on clay, it’s super long, and Pablo is a super solid player. You know until the end it’s going to be difficult, and unfortunately, I was dropping a bit physically.

“In the end I managed to turn this one and it was really unexpected.”

Hugo Gaston gives an emotional roar following his four hour marathon victory

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

The big win of the day which metaphorically brought the roof in as far as the French were concerned, was Hugo Gaston’s incredible victory over Australia’s Alex de Minaur seeded 18 out on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The 21-year-old, who last year reached the quarter finals, is set to cause more ripples at this years event as he fought off cramps and recovered from 0-3 in the fifth to oust his seeded opponent 4-6 6-2 6-3 0-6 7-6(4) after just under four hours of very competitive play in front of a very loud and emotional crowd who bayed him on and no doubt discomfited the Aussie.

“The crowd plays a very important role. They supported me right from the beginning,” Gaston said in appreciation. “I like to share my emotions with the audience, so this helped me. This gave me strength, because it was not an easy task at the beginning and the end of the fifth set. But I used the crowd. They were fantastic, so it was a great moment.”

De Minaur looked to have everything sewn up after winning nine consecutive games from the start of the fourth set only for Gaston to turn the match on its head by deploying greater variety only to fail to serve out for the match twice as he started to feel the onset of cramp.

An underarm serve helped him at one point, bringing the crowd to its feet, but despite winning the point, he was broken and had to face a 10-point final set tie-break where he was swept through by the crowd!

”I came to this Roland Garros with very few matches and some questions on myself,” Gaston admitted on the ATP website. “But my game level was always good. I felt very well on the court and I had a few problems that made it so that I didn’t succeed. If it had been a loss, it would have been difficult to handle, but I gave my best and I’m very happy about the match.”

Four other Frenchmen were on the losing side of the net, namely Ugo Humbert (lost to Emil Ruusuvuori), Benjamin Bonz (lost to Frances Tiafoe), wildcard Lucas Pouille (lost to Zdenek Kolar) and Adrain Mannarino (lost to Federico Delbonis).

In other action world number two Daniil Medvedev and 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas began their French Open campaigns on Tuesday hoping to break the Roland Garros stranglehold of the reigning champion Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, a 13-timewinner at the event.

US Open champion Medvedev has traditionally struggled on clay, needing five trips to Paris before he broke his French Open duck, reaching the quarter-finals last year .He cleared his first hurdle, Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis, comfortably 6-2 6-2 6-2.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, who had high hopes for Paris after defeating Nadal in Rome, fell to the fast-rising Danish teenage star Holger Rune 6-3 6-1 7-6(4).

The evening saw another 5-setter as Stefanos Tsitsipas came from two sets down to deny Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti any further progress, 5-7 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-2. There was a touch of déjà vu for Musetti who last year, lost to Djokovic after taking a two-sets to love lead only for him to repeat that this year against the Greek fourth seed.

“Things don’t come easy. I refuse to give up. That’s simply how it works with me,” Tsitsipas said. “You never really think about getting back after being two sets to love. You just play it point after point. You just wish that your efforts will pay off on a longer scale, longer run.

“Being in that situation… it’s a mountain that you have to climb, and I was able to climb it and regain the momentum steadily, but consistently.”

Nadal, Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev are all back in second round action on Wednesday.

Teenager Holger Rune provided one of the upsets of the day

Adam Pretty/Getty Images



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