French Open 2011: The All-Time Top 10 Memorable Moments
Ever since the French Open became the first major tournament to allow professionals to compete (the beginning of the Open Era) in 1968, there have been many memorable moments on its red dirt.
From the completion of Career Slams to producing the youngest champions in Grand Slam history, the French Open has always been the "chic" Grand Slam of the year, never lacking in glamour and drama.
Here is a chronological list of the tournament's top ten memorable moments.
Bjorn Borg's First Grand Slam (16 June, 1974)
Eighteen-year-old Borg rallied from one set down and trailing 1-4 in the second set of the 1974 final against Manuel Orantes, to go on and become the then-youngest men’s winner of the tournament. It was Borg’s first of six French Open titles, the last one coming in 1981.
Home-Boy Noah Wins the French Open (5 June, 1983)
Yannick Noah became a cult hero in 1983 after becoming the first Frenchman to win at Roland Garros after a wait of 37 years.
He dropped only one set in the tournament and defeated defending champion Mats Wilander in the final in straight sets: 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (3).
Mary Pierce is the last Frenchwoman to claim the crown back in 2000.
Lendl Denies McEnroe (10 June, 1984)
John McEnroe was enjoying a fantastic season in 1984 and had reached his first French Open final in his fifth attempt.
He was two sets up against Ivan Lendl and looked set for victory only for the latter to claw his way back to a 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 win.
The four-hour, eight-minute marathon match marked McEnroe’s first loss of the season and one of only three that year as he ultimately compiled an 82-3 record on his way to winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Chang Upsets Lendl (5 June, 1989)
Down two sets against World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Ivan Lendl, Michael Chang played one of his best matches as he used his speed to rally and forced a fifth set, where he started to suffer cramps.
He relied on underhand serves, lobs and short returns to rattle Lendl before earning a 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 fourth-round win.
Seventeen-year-old Chang went on to win the tournament, beating Stefan Edberg in an epic three-hour, 41-minute battle (6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2) to become the first American to win the French Open since 1955. He was also the youngest French Open men's champion.
Sweet Sixteen for Seles (9 June, 1990)
Just 16 years and six months old when she topped World No. 1 Steffi Graf in the final, No. 2 Monica Seles holds the record of being the youngest-ever women’s champion at the French Open.
Seles fought off four set points in the first set tie-breaker before claiming a 7-6(6), 6-4 win.
She went on to win a hat-trick of titles in 1991 and 1992.
Steffi Outclasses Sanchez Vicario (8 June, 1996)
After three sets, three hours and three minutes, Steffi Graf prevailed over Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the longest women’s final in tournament history—6-3, 6-7(4), 10-8.
Sanchez served for the match twice but Graf rallied to win her 19th Slam.
It was also one of her six French Open titles.
Steffi Overwhelms 18-Year-Old Hingis (5 June, 1999)
Just three points from losing the second set and tournament, Steffi Graf turned around the match by winning a 32-stroke rally.
Martina Hingis collapsed under the pressure and the boos from the crowd, and even a surprise underhand serve in the match’s final game could not stop Steffi from picking up her 22nd Slam.
Hingis continually disputed line calls and also crossed over the net (a strict no-no) to prove her point. She was penalized for this and was met by loud boos from the Parisian crowd.
Hingis broke down after the match and her mother had to convince her to come back on the court to receive her runner-up trophy.
Agassi Completes Career Slam (6 June, 1999)
Winning just three games in the first two sets, Andre Agassi seemed to be out of contention in the 1999 men’s final against Andrei Medvedev.
But the American mounted a scintillating comeback for a 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory, becoming the fifth man to complete a Career Slam and the first to do it on three different surfaces.
Enter Rafael Nadal (5 June, 2005)
Ushering in his title of “King of Clay,” Rafael Nadal became the first player since Mats Wilander in 1982—and third overall—to win the French Open on his tournament debut.
Nadal prevailed in a strategic battle against Mariano Puerta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, winning his sixth clay title of the year.
Earlier in the tournament, Nadal had become the youngest men’s finalist since Chang after upsetting Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the semis.
King Fed Completes Career Slam (7 June, 2009)
In his first French Open final in four years without Rafael Nadal across the net, Roger Federer completed the elusive Career Slam with a straight-set victory over Robin Soderling.
Nothing could deter the Swiss maestro on his quest to land the ever-elusive Coupe des Mousquetaires—not even the notorious Jimmy Jump who successfully placed his famous red barretina on the Swiss' head in a moment of bizarreness.
The win also helped Federer tie Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors.