Players can never over prepare for a grand slam and Antoine Hoang had his homework intact when he entered Roland Garros on a wild card. The young Frenchman had won 4 Futures singles and 14 doubles titles. He had made his debut as an ATP player in the 2018 Open 13 event.
Last year he was awarded a wild card at the French Open in doubles with Ugo Humbert. It was just this past January that he was a runner-up in a Challenger event in Rennes, France. But he was excited to return to France at Roland Garros and felt confident as he entered the French Open knowing that his first opponent would be Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur, a three-career title holder.
Hoang went in with courage and fortitude grabbed the first two games but Dzumhur wouldn't be taken advantage of and upped his level of play to make it 4-all. Hoang poured on his aggression and made it through getting a bagel in the second set but winning over the Bosnian to move on to his second opponent.
This was just the beginning for Hoang as he kept his composure and with confidence in check tackled his no. 7 ranked opponent Fernando Verdasco. The Frenchman went to a 5-4 lead in the starting set and his excitement started to climb as he sealed the set at 6-4.
He never lost hope even with the Spaniard levelling the sets quickly. The third set tiebreak gave Hoang the encouragement he needed to come from behind a break and win over his tough Spaniard opponent with an ace, scoring the match 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5.
Hoang now is on a roll and will have to bring his 'A' game to his first time third round at Roland Garros. He will be playing opposite France's Gael Monfils, holder of 8 singles titles, now ranked no. 17 and has never won a grand slam before.
Hoang feels that he has nothing to lose. He has been lucky to even get into the main draw as well as digging deep and landing into the third round. But Monfils who at one time was plagued with injuries is healed now and says after defeating Japan's Taro Daniel and then Adrian Mannarino that "I feel good, I'm not tired."
There is an 11-year age difference between Montils and Hoang and it will be the first time they will meet. "I don't know him very well. I don't know what to expect," the elder Frenchman had to say. But each are hungry for their own reasons to win this round and it most likely will be the win of whoever has the most grit and desire to seal this round.