French Open: Top 5 women’s singles finals
Every year in late April the professional tennis tour heads onto the red clay courts of Europe culminating in the French Open played in Paris at the Roland Garros tennis club.
Discover 5 of the most miraculous championship matches to ever grace court Philippe-Chatrier, including a certain German and Swiss player producing an all-time classic final back in 1999.
5. Chris Evert vs Martina Navratilova 1986
The 1986 final was a the third successive meeting in the French Open final between Evert and Navratilova, with the latter winning in 1984 and Evert heading into the 1986 tournament as defending champion. Evert prevailed, with a gutsy comeback display, after being broken twice in the first set and Navratilova seemingly on top.
Evert won 2–6, 6–3, 6–3 to claim her 18th and final Grand Slam singles championship, and her 7th Roland Garros title, an all-time record for women. In addition, Evert also set an Open Era record in the process as she had won a Grand Slam title for a 13th consecutive year.
4. Aranxta Sanchez Vicario vs Steffi Graf 1989
Heading into the 1989 French Open, Steffi Graff was the overwhelming favourite. She was the two-time defending champion and had just completed the Golden Slam the previous year. On top of that she had just won the Australian Open a few months prior.
Conversely, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who was seeded seventh in the tournament was making her Grand Slam final debut.
The Spaniard was the victor, ending Graf’s Grand Slam titles winning streak at five. The match was a tightly contested affair, with the first set going to a tie-break which the Spaniard edged 8-6. Graff rallied to take the second set, but Vicario was able to withstand the might of Graf and go on to win the third set 7-5, claiming her maiden Grand Slam title.
The German even had the opportunity to serve for the match in the third set at 5–3, but lost the game to love and won only three more points in the match from that point onward, losing the final set 5-7. It was the first of Sánchez Vicario’s three French Open titles, which she also won in 1994 and 1998. The win ended Graf’s 41 match unbeaten run with the final score reading 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-5.
3. Monica Seles vs Steffi Graf 1992
The 1992 French Open final saw two long-time rivals do battle and produce an instant classic. The final saw two-time defending champion and top-seed Monica Seles face off against German Steffi Graf, who was looking to avenge her French Open final defeat to Seles two years prior.
Both women were chasing their third title at Roland Garros but left-handed Seles was looking to become the only woman in the Open Era to win a hat-trick of titles at Roland Garros.
Seles dominated the early stages of the contest, wrapping up the first set with two breaks of the German’s serve. However, Graf was determined to get her hands on the coveted Suzanne-Lenglen cup once more, as she mounted a comeback taking the second set 6-3.
In the third set at 5-3, Seles had four Championship points but all of them were saved by Graf. Then, Seles lost her own serve as Graf drew the score at 5-5. Seles eventually took the match in what was her sixth Championship point with the scoreline reading 6-2, 3-6, 10-8. The result meant that Seles is only one of only two women to win three consecutive French Open titles.
2. Steffi Graf vs Martina Hingis 1999
Martina Hingis was World number one heading into the final on Parisian soil, having won the Australian Open in 1999 in both the singles and in the doubles. In stark contrast, Graff had not won a major in three years, with her best finish in that period coming in the 1998 US Open in the round of 16.
Hingis got off to the perfect start, taking the first set, 6-4, and leading by a 2-0 margin in the second set. Despite losing the break, Hingis broke again to go up, 5-4, allowing her to serve for the set and the match. However, Graf fought back and converted her second break point to level the match at 5-5.
After that, Graf dominated proceedings. The German, stormed to the French Open title only losing two more games in the rest of the match, winning 4-6, 7-5,6-2. Interestingly, in the Open Era, Graf became the first player to defeat the top three ranked players in a Grand Slam tournament as she defeated World number two Lindsay Davenport, World number three Seles and Hingis in the final.
It was Graf’s last ever Grand Slam title and appearance at Roland Garros, whilst simultaneously, Hingis missed out on the chance to complete a career Grand Slam.
1. Jennifer Capriati vs Kim Clijsters 2001
The American, Capriati was coming into the French Open final having just won the Australian Open a few months prior at the start of 2001. In the final she was set to face a young Kim Cjisters, aged only 19, who was playing in her first Grand Slam final.
The Belgian, showed no fear and was aggressive in her display as she romped to the first set 6-1 breaking the Capriati serve twice. Clijsters couldn’t maintain the momentum in the second set as a single break of her serve handed Capriati the set 6-4 to level the match.
The third set, however is a part of Roland Garros history. It holds the record for being the longest set in French Open finals history in terms of the number of games played. The entire third set was nip and tuck, with Capriati having two opportunities to serve out the match in the 14th game and in the 20th, before Clijsters would come roaring back. Eventually on the third attempt, the fourth seed Capriati was victorious winning the match 1-6, 6-4, 12-10. Ironically, it would be the last time in almost 15 years that another women’s final would be decided in three sets.
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