Dominic Thiem was pushed to the limits at Roland Garros on Sunday, battling past inspired French wild card Hugo Gaston, 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, to reach the quarterfinals for the fifth year in a row.
It was also his 11th win in a row, the longest tour-level winning streak of his career.
Thiem was five points away from closing it out in the third set, holding a break point with Gaston serving at 4-all, 30-40, but the 20-year-old Frenchman held and eventually snuck out the set.
Gaston won the fourth set, too, and after the first seven games of the fifth went to the server, Thiem broke one last time for a 5-3 lead and served it out, clinching victory after three hours and 32 minutes.
"I missed one break point at two sets to love and 4-all. At that point the match changed," Thiem said. "I was losing a bit of energy—but in the fifth set I found new energy. It was a great fight until the end.
"I'm very lucky I made it through today."
The Austrian was asked in his on-court interview about the No. 239-ranked Gaston, who wasn't just playing the second week of a major for the first time, he was also the last Frenchman left in the draw.
"Such good fighting qualities," Thiem said. "I haven't seen a player for a very long time with such big touch in his hands—I mean, his drop shots are from another planet. If he continues like this, he's going to be a huge, huge player, and he's going to make a lot of joy in this stadium in the future."
Gaston had taken out No. 16 seed and 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka in the third round.
Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
Awaiting the No. 3-seeded Thiem in the quarterfinals will be the No. 12 seed, Diego Schwartzman, who beat Italian Lorenzo Sonego in his fourth-round match on Court Suzanne Lenglen, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.
Thiem leads the head-to-head, 6-2, including 3-1 on clay, but they've never met at a major.
"I'm happy, of course, to face one of my best friends from the tour in the quarterfinals," Thiem said. "It's all about recovery. Obviously the last weeks were tough. I'm not running on a full tank anymore, that's for sure. So I'll try to recover as good as I can. If I'm able to do that, it's going to be an exciting match. If not, if somehow I don't make it until Tuesday, I think he's going to be the heavy favorite.
"But I'm trying to do everything to have a great recovery, to have a good day off tomorrow, and then go out on Tuesday as fit as possible."
Before this 11-match winning streak, Thiem's longest winning streaks were 10 in a row, one in 2015 (winning titles at Umag and Gstaad and reaching the semifinals of Kitzbuhel, falling to Philipp Kohlschreiber) and one in 2018 (winning Nice and reaching the final here, falling to Rafael Nadal).
Thiem is just the ninth man in the Open Era to reach five or more quarterfinals in a row at Roland Garros, after Raul Ramirez (1974-1978), Guillermo Vilas (1975-1980), Jimmy Connors (1979-1985), Ivan Lendl (1983-1988), Alex Corretja (1998-2002), Roger Federer (2005-2013), Nadal (2010-2015) and Novak Djokovic, who holds the record with 10 straight (2010-2019). He'll go for his 11th straight on Monday.