French Open: Biggest Shockers in Roland Garros History
With its red clay neutralizing some of Tennis’ biggest hitters, the French Open has produced some of the biggest shockers in Grand Slam tennis history.
From 17-year-old Michael Chang capturing the 1989 French Open to Iva Majoli's upset of Martina Hingis in the 1997 Final, and Serena Williams’ defeat this year, the French Open is often the most unpredictable of the four majors.
10. Francesca Schiavone's 2010 Title Run
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In a career that spanned 10 years prior to her entry in the 2010 draw, Schiavone had advanced to only three Grand Slam quarterfinals. This time, however, she made it to the final to face heavily favored Samantha Stosur.
Stosur had defeated Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic on her way to the finals.
But Schiavone beat her in straight sets to finish one of the most remarkable runs in Grand Slam history.
9. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario's 1989 Title Run
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Steffi Graf had dominated tennis for nearly two years before facing Sanchez Vicario in the 1989 final.
From the 1987 French Open through the 1990 French Open, Graf made 13 consecutive Grand Slam Final appearances. In this run she had a streak of eight titles in nine Grand Slam appearances and an Olympic gold medal from the 1988 Australian Open through the 1990 Aussie Open. Graf’s loss to the 17-year-old Sanchez was her only blemish at the time.
Sanchez Vicario won the first set in a tiebreaker, 8-6. After losing the second set, she recovered and won the third to win her first career Grand Slam and become at the time the youngest French Open titlist ever.
8. Virginie Razzano Outs Serena Williams in the 2012 First Round
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In 46 Grand Slam singles appearances, Serena Williams had never lost in the first round. In a 14-year career, Razzano had never advanced past the fourth round at a major. Her career record at the French Open is just 10-14.
Razzano lost the first set 6-4 and then trailed 5-1 in the second-set tiebreaker. She rallied to capture the tiebreaker and closed out the biggest win of her career on home soil 6-3 in the third.
Ironically, Razzano will face Arantxa Rus in the second round this year. Rus pulled off the shocker of the 2011 French Open by defeating Kim Clijsters.
7. Arantxa Rus Upsets Kim Clijsters in the Second Round
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Clijsters came to Roland Garros in 2011 having won the last two majors.
She held a 6-3, 5-2 lead with two match points over the 114th-ranked player in the world. Rus won 11 of the next 12 games to pull off one of the biggest shockers in French Open history.
After shocking Clijsters in the second round, Rus fell 6-1, 6-1 to Maria Kirilenko in the third.
6. Iva Majoli's 1997 Title Run
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Iva Majoli entered the 1997 French Open as the ninth seed after consecutive quarterfinal appearances the two previous years.
Hingis was the No. 1 player in the world and in the middle of a run that included winning four out of five Grand Slams and 11 straight Grand Slam semifinal appearances.
Majoli controlled the match. She won 6-4, 6-2 for her only Grand Slam title. That was the only time in her career she advanced past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam.
5. Adriano Panatta Gives Bjorn Borg His Only Two Losses at Roland Garros
Although he won the 1976 Open, Adriano Panatta is remembered more for giving Bjorn Borg both of his career losses at the French. He won both matches in straight sets: in the fourth round in 1973 and on his way to his only career Grand Slam title in 1976.
Borg defeated Panatta in four at the French in 1975 in the semifinals. He retired with a 49-2 career record at the French Open.
4. Soderling Upsets Nadal and Federer in Consecutive Years
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Soderling entered the tournament seeded 23rd and had never advanced past the third round in 21 previous Grand Slam appearances. He eventually advanced to the final where he lost to Roger Federer in straight sets.
Soderling used his win over Nadal and subsequent advancement to the 2009 final as a springboard to an excellent finish to the season. He advanced to the quarterfinals at the US Open that fall and qualified for the year-end championship in London.
Federer had a streak of reaching 21 consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals entering the 2010 French Open. After losing the first set, Soderling used a break in each of the last three sets to shock Federer in four to reach his second straight French Open quarterfinal.
He overcame a two-sets-to-one deficit against Thomas Berdych in the semifinal before losing to Nadal in straight sets in the final.
3. Michael Chang's 1989 Title Run
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Chang’s run to the French Open title in 1989 is legendary.
Down two sets to none to Ivan Lendl in the fourth round, Chang rallied to claim one of the most improbable victories in tennis history.
Chang began cramping in the fourth set. He had to employ some very unusual tactics to defeat the world’s top-ranked player. Chang used moon balls, an underhand serve and quickly ate many bananas to help with his cramping.
After winning his next two matches in four sets, Chang faced third-seeded Stefan Edberg in the finals. Edberg held a two-sets-to-one lead before Chang staged another furious rally to become the youngest male Grand Slam champion ever. That record still stands today.
Although he advanced to a Grand Slam final three more times in his career, he was never able to duplicate his magical run of 1989 at Roland Garros.
2. Gustavo Kuerten's 1997 Title Run
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Gustavo Kuerten entered the 1997 French Open as the 66th-ranked player in the world. He was still seeking his first career title.
"Guga" overcame one-set deficits against former champions Thomas Muster and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, then defeated two-time former champion Sergi Bruguera in the final in straight sets.
He survived three five-set matches and rallied from a set down three times during his amazing run. Kuerten went on to capture back-to-back French Open titles in 2000 and 2001.
1. Kathy Horvath Defeats Top-Seeded Martina Navratilova
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Martina Navratilova had arguably the greatest season in tennis history in 1983. She finished the year 83-1. Her lone loss came to unseeded Kathy Horvath.
At the French Open, Navratilova breezed through the first three rounds losing only seven games. Horvath too advanced to the fourth round without losing a set. Her run included upsetting the 15th-seeded Claudia Kohde-Kilsch in the third round.
Horvath captured the first set 6-4 and after losing the second set at love, she rebounded to win 6-3 in the third. She would duplicate her quarterfinal appearance at the French a year later, but she was never able to duplicate it elsewhere in her career.