Dominic Thiem withstood a valiant fightback from world No 239 Hugo Gaston to record a thrilling five-set victory to reach the French Open quarter-finals.
The US Open champion won 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-3 to avoid a remarkable upset as French wildcard Gaston thrilled a sparse yet passionate home support under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Thiem, who has lost to Rafael Nadal in the last two French Open finals, has now won 11 successive matches – the longest run of his career.
“I think it was an amazing match for both of us, such good fighting qualities for him,” Thiem said.
“I haven’t seen for a very long time a player with such a big touch in his hands. His drop shots were from another planet.
“I was losing a little bit of energy, he was playing amazing. In the fifth set I found somehow new energy. It was a great fight to the end and I’m very lucky I made it through today.”
The Austrian third seed had won his opening three matches without losing a set and appeared on track to maintain that run by winning the opening two sets.
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But an inspired Gaston rallied to break Thiem twice in the third set, before a further break in the fourth game of the fourth set proved enough to take the match to a deciding fifth set.
Gaston, 20, arrived at Roland Garros without a tour-level win but had overcame 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in the third round and throughout the contest showed flair in his shot selection as his use of drop shots unsettled Thiem.
Thiem sealed the vital break in the eighth game of the fifth set as Gaston missed with his usually reliable drop shot, before he was forced to save an immediate break back point as he eventually sealed victory in three hours and 32 minutes on his second match point.
He will play Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in the last eight after the 12th seed defeated Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-1 6-3 6-4.
Schwartzman, who is yet to lose a set this fortnight, converted eight of 11 break points to reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the second time in three years.
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