Top 10 French Open finals of all time
Originally published on 21/05/14
(1) 1927: Rene Lacoste beat Bill Tilden 6-4 4-6 5-7 6-3 11-9 Two of the game’s greatest tacticians contested the longest Roland Garros final in terms of games played. Lacoste, one of France’s “Four Musketeers”, produced a swashbuckling performance to deny the great Tilden, who scorned two match points when he served at 9-8 and 40-15 in the final set.
(2) 1962: Rod Laver beat Roy Emerson 3-6 2-6 6-3 9-7 6-2 Laver’s first Grand Slam might never have been achieved had Emerson not tightened up with the finishing line in sight. Emerson won the first two sets and led 3-0 in the fourth but Laver was a fighter who never gave up. “He got too careful and that gave me time to breathe,” Laver said afterwards.
(3) 1973: Margaret Court beat Chris Evert 6-7 7-6 6-4 There were times when Evert was almost unbeatable on clay – later that summer she embarked on an unbeaten run of 125 matches on the dirt – but a classic battle of the generations saw 31-year-old Court eclipse her 18-year-old opponent after a see-saw battle.
(4) 1983: Yannick Noah beat Mats Wilander 6-2 7-5 7-6 Not the greatest Roland Garros final but the one remembered with the most affection by French fans. Noah is the only home-grown men’s singles champion since 1946. He is also the last player to have won a Grand Slam title with a wooden racket.
(5) 1984: Ivan Lendl beat John McEnroe 3-6 2-6 6-4 7-5 7-5 To this day McEnroe cringes in disbelief at the memory. The American, who had won his previous 42 matches, lost his focus after shouting at a cameraman in the third set. The crowd quickly turned in favour of Lendl, who went on to win his first Grand Slam title, having lost his first four finals.
(6) 1985: Chris Evert beat Martina Navratilova 6-3 6-7 7-5 This meeting came at the height of their great rivalry, with Navratilova leading 33-31 in their headto- head record. A high-quality contest looked to be going Navratilova’s way when Evert trailed 0-40 on her serve at 5-5 in the decider, but she held on to claim the sixth of her seven Roland Garros titles.
(7) 1989: Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario beat Steffi Graf 7-6 3-6 7-5 Sanchez-Vicario, a 17-year-old bundle of joy and energy, became the first Spanish woman to win a Grand Slam title after a final that lasted two minutes short of three hours. Graf was the game’s outstanding player and had won the last five Grand Slam titles, but Sanchez-Vicario ran her into the ground with her boundless enthusiasm.
(8) 1999: Steffi Graf beat Martina Hingis 4-6 7-5 6-2 The final Hingis would love to forget. The Swiss Miss, having already been warned for racket abuse, led 6-4 2-0 when she raged at length over a line-call. Having provoked more crowd antipathy by taking a prolonged toilet break and serving under-arm on match point, Hingis rushed off court at the end before returning in tears for the presentations.
(9) 1999: Andre Agassi beat Andrei Medvedev 1-6 2-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 Agassi became only the fifth man to win all four Grand Slam titles but needed an extraordinary comeback to achieve the feat. The American, whose coach Brad Gilbert had torn into him during a rain break, broke down in tears at the end. “I never dreamed I’d ever be back here after so many years.”
(10) 2001: Gustavo Kuerten beat Alex Corretj a 6-7 7-5 6-2 6-0 A final remembered as much for Kuerten’s postmatch celebration as for the manner of his third Roland Garros triumph. The Brazilian sealed his love affair with the tournament and with the Paris fans by drawing a heart in the red clay with his racket.