This severe penalty, which exceeds his total prize money for 2023 thus far (approximately $120,000), was triggered by Gaston's repeated attempts to manipulate the rules of the game for his benefit.
The 22-year-old left-hander, who once reached as high as 58th in the rankings, received this punitive action due to his actions during a match at the Madrid Open on April 28 when he faced off against Borna Coric from Croatia.
During his second-round defeat to the Croat, 3-6, 3-6, Gaston intentionally dropped a ball from his pocket onto the court during one of Coric's smashes on a set point, likely hoping to invoke a "let" and force the point to be replayed—a clear act of unsportsmanlike conduct.
This was not the first time Gaston had tried such a tactic. The ATP had warned him late last year for a similar gesture, but this season, Gaston had not helped his cause with several acts of on-court anger that also resulted in a fine.
Gaston's hefty fine sparked considerable discussion in tennis circles, with some questioning the appropriateness of such a large penalty for a player who had only accumulated $117,361 in prize money since the beginning of the year.
However, the severity of the fine can be better understood in the context of new regulations from the ATP. Since the start of the season, the ATP has been enforcing a new conduct code, which was introduced to address perceived leniency in previous penalties.
According to this new code, fines can be as high as $60,000 for each violation at ATP Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, and they increase by 100% for each consecutive violation within the same calendar year.
After appealing the punishment, Gaston's fine was reduced to €72,000 (about $77,500), provided he meets certain conditions. These include not committing any additional violations during a one-year probationary period.
The French player, who was once considered to be one of the biggest talents in his country after he won the 2018 Boys' Doubles at the Australian Open, will now want to focus on his performances to recover the financial loss.
He didn't qualify for the upcoming Roland Garros, but thanks to being one of the wild card recipients, Gaston will compete on the Parisian clay. For the first-round loss the Frenchman will receive 69,000€ in prize money, covering his halved penalty, and to recover the initial fine, he would need to reach the third round, which guarantees 142,000€.