Best Matches Played in the History of the French Open
The French Open is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the tennis calendar. As it is played on one of the unique surfaces in tennis (clay), it has seen some of the best matches in the history of the sport. Rafael Nadal, Ivan Lendl, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic are just a few players who have set the stage on fire in Paris over the years. Along with them, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Serena Williams lead the game in the WTA circuit.
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Since its humble beginnings in 1891, Roland Garros has seen many dreams being achieved, and many being broken. Here are some of the best matches that have taken place on the courts of Stade Roland Garros.
Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova, 1985
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Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have had one of the most intense rivalries in all of tennis. Their matches always had people glued to the TV screens, however few around the world. The two met for the 65th time at the 1985 French Open final and many believed that Navratilova would prevail as she had won the last 15 matches against her archrival.
As they started the final, Evert did not fail to turn the tide in her favor. She won the first set with relative ease and led with a score of 6-3. The second set saw immense contention as Evert was up by 4-2. But Navratilova managed to come back and win with the score 7-6. Now the game had become extremely tense and once again, the mass believed that the Czech-American star would win.
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But Evert dashed all her hopes and won the match with a score of 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, breaking Navratilova’s streak. At the end of the day, Evert lifted the trophy for the sixth time in her career and cemented her position as the ‘Queen of Clay’.
Michael Chang vs. Ivan Lendl, 1989
Michael Chang vs Ivan Lendl was one match that people thought would be over in a jiffy. Chang was a fresher at the age of 17 and Lendl was a legend. The match ended with a surprise after five sets. They met in the fourth round of the Roland Garros as Lendl won his first three matches in straight sets.
Lendl showed signs of going past the fourth round as well as he won the first two sets 6-4, 6-4. However, Chang showed his potential as he went on to win the third set, surprising the veteran. The Czech player became frustrated and started complaining about the conditions. This cost him a point and a game in the fourth set, which was also won by Chang.
While Chang had gained the momentum, he was suffering from severe leg cramps near the end of the fourth set. But he still managed to win the match with a final score of 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The defeat would haunt Lendl as Chang also went on to win his first major title. Chang was also the youngest player to win a slam, solidifying his name in tennis history.
Andre Agassi vs. Andrei Medvedev, 1999
The 1999 French Open final was not only a great match, but it was also a highly emotional one. Andre Agassi had made a comeback to the Tour two after his well-known struggles with addiction. He was on rehab and had managed to regain his form. Agassi faced Andrei Medvedev in the final.
Viewers believed that Agassi would have to wait to win a slam final again as Medvedev had won the first two sets with little difficulty. The Ukrainian player, ranked 100 at the time, was about to win his first major title. But Agassi found his form and won the third set after almost having his serve broken in the ninth game. The American player eventually saved the match and went on to win the fourth and fifth set.
The match became a turning point in Agassi’s life and he covered his face and cried as he realized he won the French Open, thereby completing a Career Grand Slam. It was feat that Rod Laver achieved, 30 years before Agassi in 1969. The match finished with a score of 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
Serena Williams vs. Venus Williams, 2002
Serena Williams and Venus Williams are close sisters who always have each other’s backs. However, they were also their greatest rivals and have faced each other 31 times. One of their best matches came in the 2002 French Open final. Their third overall meeting in the final was one of their most intense matches. The final began with an eye-opening performance.
The first set culminated with Serena winning in twelve games. But, the second set was over quickly as Serena won her first French Open at just 21. The scorecard read 7-5, 6-3 in the younger sister’s favor.
Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer, 2008
One cannot mention the greatest matches in Roland Garros history without naming the King of Clay. Rafael Nadal has created wonders in the clay major and dashed the hopes of many. One player who had his dream ended by Nadal was his fiercest rival, Roger Federer. The 2008 French Open became the third instance where the two legends faced each other.
However, this match, like many of theirs, did not have the fierce competition. Nadal easily crushed Federer and claimed his fourth French Open title in a row. Nadal won the final against Federer with a score of 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. This would set the tone for Nadal’s Roland Garros dominance.
Robin Soderling vs. Rafael Nadal, 2009
When the words French Open and Rafael Nadal come in the same sentence people assume its about another one of his wins. However, in 2009, the world saw a miracle. Nadal was defeated at the French Open for the first time ever since he debuted at the clay major. He faced Robin Soderling in the fourth round and lost to the Swedish player.
Soderling won the first set, but Rafa clinched the second set, making people believe he would eventually win. But Soderling stuck to his guns and became the stuff of nightmares for Nadal. The match sent the Spaniard home as Soderling was amazed at his own performance as he won by a score of 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.
Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic, 2013
Some of Nadal’s greatest matches have come against Novak Djokovic. In the 2013 season, Nadal added another French Open to his tally. But it was not a routine win for him, on his way to the final, he met the Djoker in the semifinal.
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The match went on to five sets. They traded sets one by one as sets one and three were won by Nadal. Sets two and four were won by Djokovic. The final set could’ve been won by anyone as it went on for 16 games. But Nadal dashed the hopes of Djokovic with a score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 9-7.
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Carlos Alcaraz vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz is someone who is still a fresh face in tennis. But he is already on top of the ATP rankings. One of the stepping stones for the Spaniard to reach this far was his second round bout against Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the 2022 French Open. It also ended up becoming the longest match of Alcaraz’s nascent career at four and a half hours.
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The score of the match was an astounding 6-1, 6-7 (7), 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4. By the end, both the players were winded and could barely give the press conference. This marked one of the best matches of Alcaraz, with many more to come in the future.
Edited By: Tony Thomas