The French open tournament is the 2nd grand slam in the tennis calendar, marking the beginning of the summer season in the tennis circuit. The French open is popular among the tennis fans for it’s red clay court – considered as the toughest court that there is in tennis.
The clay court is considered to be the toughest battle for a tennis player as the clay frequently stuck to the players shoes which makes the court slippery and it’s hard for shot-making players to find the grip and smash the volleys in their desired target zone – the clay court is about tennis stars who are able to maintain their court coverage at a fine speed regardless of the clay spread across the court.
Rafael Nadal is the prime example of the apt player on the clay court with his tremendous speed of covering the court matched with his aggressive forehand that makes the opponents time at the court miserable – Nadal has 9 French open titles to his name, most for any tennis player in history.
Through this article, we look at the 5 most memorable matches from French Open in the open era :
#5 Roger Federer vs Tommy Haas
The Swiss legend in Federer had all the grand slams but the French Open missing from his illustrious tally. The 2009 French Open was the ideal opportunity for the elegant Federer to seize the French cup and get a career all-slam with Nadal exiting from the tournament and him facing Haas in the final. It was though from no means an easy final. Federer was down 0-2 after the first 2 sets after which a tremendous fightback driven by Federer’s impeccable backhand and consistent to-the-point serve managed to squeeze the match in his favor, winning the next 3 sets. The scoreline was 6-7 5-7 6-4 6-0 6-2.
#4 Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic, Semi Final, 2013
The semi-final of the 2013 French Open was an unofficial final as the winner faced-off with David Ferrer in the finals, who didn’t have a grand slam under his belt and people saw this match as the real final. Nadal and Djokovic has been a tremendous riveting contest in the last few years and this match was no exception as it lasted upto 4 sets in which Nadal came out on top. The temperate was above 30C which gave great trouble to both the players and it was Djokovic who cracked first. Nadal won 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7 (9-7)
#3 Andre Agassi vs Andrei Medvedev, 1999 Final
One of the greatest stories of fight back in a grand slam final, Agassi was struggling to get going in the first 2 sets, so much so that he got the absolute beating of 1-6 2-6 in the first 2 sets but a spirited comeback from the absolute legend that Agassi is; 6-4 6-3 6-4 is what the match scoreline read. A break of serve in the 3rd set changed the course of the match, tournament of 1999 in fact. Medvedev explained after the match that he lost to a great player and that he was happy to be a “part of the history” that was made at the French Open final of 1999.
#2 Michael Chang vs Evan Lendl, 1989 4th round
This year’s Rolland Garros saw it’s youngest champion in 17 year-old Chang, who faced off the stiff competition of Lendl in the 4th round and it was perhaps this match from which the confidence of winning the cup ignited inside the young Chang. Young and energetic, Chang was returning volleys just close to the service line and to the net – the coverage of the court was impeccable. 4-6 4-6 meant that Lendl was leading Chang 2-0 but the teen hadn’t bowed out and came back to win the next 3 sets on a trot 6-3 6-3 6-3. Even the experience of Lendl fell short of beating this fine young lad from America.
#1 Ivan Lendl vs John McCenroe, 1984 Final
When McCenroe plays a match, it makes headlines. The McCenroe of the early 1980’s was as famous of his antics as he was for his sheer genius gameplay. McCenroe came into the match having been unbeaten all through the season, an unbeaten record that lasted 39 matches. 2 set up and 2 games away from the cup in the 3rd set; a rant against the cameraman in this set went against the love of the crowd and they got behind Lendl – who took full advantage and won the 3rd set 6-4. McCenroe continued to make chances in the next 2 sets but Lendl was too good to handle – and the crowd support only raised the anguish within McCenroe, leading to self-destruction. Lendl won the next 2 sets 7-5 7-5 (one break of McCenroe’s serve in each set). McCenroe never won a French open and this was the closest that he got to winning the grand slam.