Marc Polmans is the unlikely last Australian man standing in Paris after making the most of his 11th-hour main-draw call up to reach the second round of the French Open.
The 23-year-old continued his breakout year on Tuesday with an assured 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3 defeat of impressive French talent Ugo Humbert, ranked 84 places higher at No.38 in the world.
Polman’s maiden main-draw Roland Garros win came despite losing in the final round of qualifying – one of three late entries after a number of withdrawals on the eve of the tournament.
The win over Humbert guarantees world No.122 Polmans at least $130,000 and comes on the back of a gutting five-set loss in the first round of the US Open and a second-round appearance at the Australian Open earlier this year.
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) September 29, 2020
Remarkably, six other Australian men had played before Polmans and lost without winning a set in cold, difficult Paris conditions.
But South African-born Polmans looked far more comfortable than the red-hot hometown favourite as he defied some late nerves in a three-hour, two-minute contest.
Wearing his trademark legionnaires hat, Polmans raced through the first two sets before a gritty hold of serve early in the fourth set sent him on his way.
The Australian hit back-to-back winners for the decisive break before saving break points as he served out the match.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) September 29, 2020
Polmans will play Chilean 20th seed Cristian Garin or German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round.
His victory puts him into the round of 64 with Australian women Daria Gavrilova and Astra Sharma, and came on the heels of Alexei Popyrin’s 6-4 6-4 7-6 (9-7) loss to South African Lloyd Harris earlier on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Popyrin, junior champion at Roland Garros three years ago, ended the match with 20 unforced errors more than Harris and 12 less winners.
His loss followed comprehensive straight-sets losses by Alex de Minaur, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth, John Millman and Aleksandar Vukic across the tournament’s first two days.