Aussie breakthrough tennis star Marc Polmans is not only the unlikely last Australian man standing in Paris but continues to win fans due to his ‘iconic’ hat choice.
Polmans made the most of his 11th-hour main draw call-up to reach the second round of the French Open.
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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, the last of three lucky losers drawn after a trio of withdrawals on the eve of the tournament.
The win over Humbert was his first top-50 scalp and guarantees World No.122 Polmans at least $130,000.
But fans on social media couldn’t get enough of the Aussies energy and unusual hat choice during the match.
What made it more obscure was wearing the legionnaires hat in the damp and cold of Paris.
Polmans cap is sending me— Couch panini (@towerparkkanni) September 29, 2020
Beautiful tennis from Polmans. Wonderful effort. Drop shot master class. Bravo. A well-deserved win over an exceptionally good opponent. But what about the RAIN in the last set. Felt sorry for the wet-headed ball kids.— Sean Martin Hingston (@seanhingston) September 29, 2020
Polmans wearing the Aussie ball kid hat and gets the job done. That's a huge upset over Ugo Humbert. https://t.co/wdCL7HyaYX— Michael Gallo (@Galloots) September 29, 2020
We get to see one more round of the most unnecessary hat in existence (for this weather at least). Well done Marc Polmans.— PT (@PTTennis1) September 29, 2020
Pleased for Hat Polmans— Stew (@tennis123stew) September 29, 2020
Have a day, Marc Polmans. 🙌— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) September 29, 2020
First tour-level win on clay and the first Top 50 win of @marcpolmans' career, d. Humbert in four sets at #RG20 . The last Aussie 🇦🇺 standing in Paris. pic.twitter.com/8z9lfxHnMS
Marc Polmans was one of the first athletes I ever interviewed, at the Traralgon Challenger 2018, having watched him a year earlier at Mornington. He was incredibly polite and willing to give me some time. For that I'm grateful. Great to see him and his iconic cap get through. https://t.co/IWmFkirbrh— Jonty Ralphsmith (@JontyRalphsmith) September 29, 2020
While fans were loving his sun-protection style hat, they were just as impressed with his incredible performance on clay.
And it 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, with a long isolation period in hometown Melbourne wedged in between.
"I was just in the cafe waiting, knowing they were doing the (lucky loser) draw but didn't want to watch, I thought it'd be too tense," he recalled of only his second lucky loser call-up in his career.
"The coach watched and I was the last one picked out; very lucky, don't take those for granted, didn't expect to be playing again and now to be the last Aussie standing is pretty cool."
Polmans flying Aussie flag in Second Round
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.
Polmans will play Chilean 20th seed Cristian Garin in the second round, alongside Australian women Daria Gavrilova and Astra Sharma.
Earlier on Tuesday Alexei Popyrin's 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) loss to South African Lloyd Harris marked just his second first-round exit from seven grand slam appearances.
The 21-year-old Popyrin, junior champion at Roland Garros three years ago, ended the match with 20 unforced errors more than Harris and could not manufacture a single break point.
"He served very, very well, I didn't expect him to serve that well," World No.108 Popyrin said.
"I'm definitely disappointed; it's my first time losing for the first time in a grand slam (since his 2018 Australian Open debut).
"I'm not feeling great confidence-wise; I think I'm going to play tournaments until there's no more to play (this year), because I want to get that feeling of winning matches back."
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.
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