The French Open's 10 Most Memorable Matches of All Time
The French Open has seen from great matches over the years. I have put together this list of the most memorable matches ever played at this Grand Slam tournament.
A memorable match to me needs: a player who showed complete dominance over her/his opponent, a comeback, an incident during the match, and a historic result.
This list has all of those traits and more. There are five men's matches and five women's matches on the list. Most of the matches are French Open finals, but there is also one quarterfinal match and a fourth-round match.
10. 1999 Roland Garros Final: Andre Agassi defeated Andrei Medvedev, 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Andre Agassi came back from two sets down to win the match to claim his first French Open title. It was also a historic win as the win made Agassi only the fifth man to win the career Grand Slam.
9. 1988 Roland Garros Final: Steffi Graf defeated Natasha Zvereva, 6-0, 6-0
In one of the most dominating performances in a Grand Slam final, Graf routed Zvereva without losing a single game. Zvereva was the underdog, but she did beat second-ranked Martina Navratilova in the fourth round.
But 1988 was Graf's year as she won the French en route to winning the Grand Slam and an Olympic gold medal.
8. 2004 Roland Garros Final: Gaston Gaudio defeated Guillermo Coria, 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6
Gaudio became the fifth lowest-ranked player to win a Grand Slam and was the first man in 70 years to win a Grand Slam tournament after saving match points in the final.
He was ranked 44th and was unseeded for the tournament. Coria was ranked third and was the best clay court player in the world. Gaudio came back from two sets down to win the title.
7. 1984 Roland Garros Final: Ivan Lendl defeated John McEnroe, 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5
Down two sets and trailing 4-2 in the fourth, Lendl came back to win the title. Up two sets, McEnroe had one of his famous meltdowns as he became irate at a cameraperson making noise behind him.
From that moment, Lendl slowly took control of the match and won it in a close fifth set. The incident is what everyone remembers from this match. It might not be the reason Lendl won, but McEnroe never got back his momentum.
6. 1983 Roland Garros Final: Yannick Noah defeated Mats Wilander, 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3)
Wilander was the better overall player, but the Frenchman playing for his country's championship wasn't going lose this match. Noah chose to hide the flaws in his game by attacking the net at every opportunity.
Wilander was able to adjust in the second and third sets. However, everything seemed to be on Noah's side as he won the third set tiebreaker.
5. 1992 Roland Garros Final: Monica Seles defeated Steffi Graf, 6-2, 3-6, 10-8
In a match lasting almost three hours, Graf saved five match points before falling in the final set. Seles served for the title three times in a final set that lasted 91 minutes.
4. 1983 Roland Garros fourth round: Kathy Horvath defeated Martina Navratilova, 6-4, 0-6, 6-3
It is hard to find an upset bigger than this in a Grand Slam. Navratilova was the top-ranked player in the world and had won three of the last four major titles. Kathy Horvath was a unranked 17-year-old American who played her way into the Round of 16.
Horvath won the first set and came back after losing the second set to win the match.
It turned out to be the only loss for Navratilova that season. She ended the year 86-1 and came the closest to an perfect season in the Open era.
A footnote: The pair played seven matches since the upset, and Horvath never won another set from Navratilova.
3. 1985 Roland Garros Final: Chris Evert defeated Martina Navratilova, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5
It was the best match in the best rivalry in tennis history. Navratilova came into the final having won 15 of their last 16 matches. Evert won a back-and-forth first set.
The second set went to a tiebreak as Navratilova went up 4-1 and won it 7-4. The final set was tied 5-5 with Evert trailing 0-40. Evert rallied to win that game and break Navratilova in the following game. She won the final service game to win the title.
2. 1989 Roland Garros quarterfinals: Michael Chang defeated Ivan Lendl, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Lendl was the No. 1 player in the world and a three-time French Open champion. Chang was an unranked 17-year-old American.
Lendl won the first two sets and then broke Chang’s serve in the opening game of the third set. It looked like he was going to cruise to a straight set win.
But Chang broke back immediately and won the third set, 6-3.
Midway through the fourth set, Chang's body began breaking down as he suffered leg cramps. With his mobility limited, he had to resort to on-court trickery. He served underhanded and took all the pace off his shots by hitting moon balls.
Lendl lost his rhythm and the fourth set and trailed in the fifth set. Standing well inside the baseline as he returned Lendl's serve, Chang forced Lendl into double-faulting on match point, ending the match.
The four-hour, 37-minute match made Chang a worldwide name. Most people believe that this match was in the tournament final. But he went on to beat Stefan Edberg to win the tournament seven days later.
1. 1999 Roland Garros final: Steffi Graf defeated Martina Hingis, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
Like Chang 10 years earlier, Hingis was breaking down in the middle of the match. However, Hingis' breakdown was mental.
With Hingis winning in the first set and leading 2-0 in the second set, Hingis broke protocol and went to Graf's side of the court to argue a call. The referee gave her a point penalty as a result.
From that moment, the crowd abandoned her and Hingis could not recover. An interview she gave before the match ripping Graf did not help matters. But Hingis did have her chances to win.
She came within three points of winning the second set but could not finish the match. Graf won the second, and Hingis was outmatched in the third.
After the match, Hingis left the court and was not going to come back out for the award ceremony. Hingis' mother convinced her to go back on the court.
Graf announced after the match that it was her last French Open and she intended to retire. Later that year, Graf made her retirement official.