18 Responses

  1. Deborah
    Deborah May 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

    Enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I had never seen a FO match until I became a Federer fan so the Slam has more downs than ups for me. Although the big “UP” was of course 2009. At that final, I have never seen such an outpouring of love for a player as the crowd showed Roger. I know someone who was there and she said the reality of it was bigger than what came across on TV. In addition to completing the career slam, Federer was staring at tieing the slam record at 2009 FO, after being unsuccessful at AO. There was a lot of stuff on the line in addition to his path no longer having Nadal.

  2. Jason
    Jason May 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm |

    I seem to recall some amount of sentiment around 2004-2005 that the French Open was in need of some historical significance, something to keep it on the level of the other Slams. It’s at least true that the ’04 champ was probably the biggest “one-Slam wonder” we’ve had. I think it’s safe to say it got that significance, what.

    Not only was that ’11 match Djoker’s first loss of the year, but I’d be inclined to think of it was the only time full-flow 2011 Djokovic WAS beaten: his other five losses in the season had an injury-shadow over them, especially after the U.S. Open when his back gave out. We’ve seen some great seasons (Fed’s ’04-’07, Nadal’s ’08 and ’10) recently, and that may have been the best of the ATP’s last decade, after Federer’s ’06 obviously. Also, I have some resentment towards Fabio Fognini for giving the Djoker a walkover in that tournament; it prevented him from tying McEnroe’s record. But that’s Fognini for you.

    2008 French Open has some painful memories for me; the very nasty loss by Federer in the final, of course, but also how it’s almost impossible to think of Ivanovic’s excellent run of form in that tournament without remembering just how spectacularly (and QUICKLY) she crashed and burned that year afterwards. Somewhat similar for Dinara Safina the next year, only…different. Speaking of lingering petty resentments on my part, I never liked how vicious some sections of the media seemed to get with her: some folks got really INTENT on “discrediting” Safina’s accomplishments, eventually leading us to a point in time where Bleacher Report decided to make a “least-deserving #1s” “”article” last year…and put Pat Rafter and Victoria Azarenka on it. Let’s just say that annoyed me. (Although then again that’s Bleacher Report for you, isn’t it.)

    Now, when we Roddick fans remember his career, we do not generally talk about the French Open, okay? We just…don’t.

    I also agree the FO tends to have the worst crowds. I reallly don’t like how they treated Hingis in ’97, and Serena Williams in ’03, for example.

    I was totally stunned by Schiavone’s win. I just assumed Stosur was going to win unless she beat herself, after the way she handled Henin/Williams/Jankovic (just remembering the fact she beat Henin and Williams back-to-back at a Slam feels absurd even if it was Henin 2.0). I thought that Schaivone had taken care of business very well (felt like she won every match 6-4, 6-3) but had gotten a huge draw benefit, the toughest opponents she faced being IIRC Wozniacki (who wasn’t fully Wozniacki for another month or so, leaving aside red clay has never really worked for her) and Dementieva (who had to retire after a first-set tiebreak). After that I thought the most interesting question was whether or not she’d go Gaudio on us or not. With her returning to the final and winning the longest-ever WTA match in that Aussie versus Kuznetsova, I think it’s safe to say that although she’s “technically” a one-Slam wonder, she’s escaped Gaudio’s “fate”, and that’s good. (Though winning even one Slam ever is still a remarkable thing by itself.)

    And, uh, I feel I’ve rambled on long enough, here. Stopping now.

  3. Matt Zemek
    Matt Zemek May 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm |

    Coria-Gaudio 2004 will long remain one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen on a tennis court.

    Jim Courier winning back-to-back championships is an achievement that, viewed through the lens of American clay-court tennis the past 15 years, seems to be talked about a lot less than it should be.

    Thomas Muster’s 1995 title was such an immensely validating moment after all he had been through. In fact, if there’s a cross-era clay-court match I’d love to see among champions from the past 20 years, it would be Muster and Nadal. (Muster-Federer would be pretty damn interesting, too.)

    Iva Majoli upsetting Hingis in the 1997 semis, followed by Graf’s improbable comeback against Hingis in the 1999 final, did so much damage to Hingis’s career and legacy (as great as said career and legacy still were, compared to most). Those two matches showed the frail side of Hingis as both a competitor and a person. Those two matches created a “what might have been” feel that still hovers over Hingis to this day.

    Roland Garros is also the tournament where Nicole Vaidisova’s career essentially died. It’s where Ana Ivanovic will win her only major. It’s where Serena Williams went over a decade without winning… and could very well win after a winless decade, which would be pretty special.

    Oh, and RG wouldn’t be complete without recalling all the anonymous semifinalists and/or finalists from the 1990s and very early 2000s: Verkirk. Medvedev. Hrbaty. Berasategui. Norman.

    And Tim Henman. 😉

  4. RZ
    RZ May 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

    Fed’s coming back from 2 sets down against Haas stands out for me. He hit that inside-out forehand that clipped the line, and the match changed after that.

    There was the year Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario won the final against Monica Seles and practically apologized to Monica for winning the match. That was also one of the years where the young guns (Hingis, Venus, Kournikova, Davenport) were being highly touted, so to see two vets make the final was great. And I can’t believe Hingis’s meltdown against Graf in the final didn’t make the cut!

    I also remember Tim Henman making the semis in 2004, and he almost made the final (!) before Coria got back into the match.

  5. Ophelia
    Ophelia May 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm |

    I don’t have very many French Open memories to share, but I concur with the general assessment that the French Open has gone from the Grand Slam most likely to churn out one-Slam wonders to the Slam LEAST likely to do so and that this transformation has made the French Open feel more well-integrated into the Slam schedule than it used to.

    Although the above is really more of the doing of a few truly exceptional players than anything else — if Nadal wasn’t playing, this Slam could actually have become one of the most open in recent history on the men’s side with almost every top male player coming in with question marks about his form.

  6. Tennisfan
    Tennisfan May 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

    2009 and 2011 French Opens for sure. I’m sorry but I’ve grown tired of Nadal in the clay season for a while now. The FO in my books is the least entertaining slam purely because you basically already know what the outcome is going to be. Australia is slowly following in that direction due to Djokovic. No hate against Nadal or Novak, it’s not their fault no one can match their dominance in those places but I think everyone just enjoys the two weeks more when their fate is filled with a little uncertainty. I enjoyed Australia this year as Djokovic was a bit unsteady but eventually cemented his throne there, so that was good to see that he isn’t unbreakable there.

    Back to the French. JJ it seems to me you don’t really like Roger, just the vibe I’ve gotten over posts and podcasts. So it’s surprising to me that you dismiss 2009 only because you didn’t get the outcome you wanted. Tennis isn’t about that. Sometimes you just need to look at the tennis that is being played, doesn’t matter between who but the quality of it. Robin Soderling vs Nadal is one of my all time top matches. It remains to be Nadal’s ONLY loss at this slam, a true underrated achievement of Rafa, maybe even his best to be honest. Also reminds me that tennis is missing Soderling a lot, so if he doesn’t make it back to the court, we will always have this match. Federer’s path to the final shows that just because he didn’t have to beat Nadal, it didn’t mean that he deserved the title any less. His path to the final was brutal and that one point he played in the Haas match, BP down changed the course of that FO for Roger. That was an emotional journey for Roger and it was incredible to finally see him get that title really so 2009 ranks best in my books. In 2011, I’m going to make a point here to stop the rants on why it doesn’t matter that Djokovic and Rafa landed on opposite sides. This tournament was incredible from the get go. The vulnerability of Nadal first of all started this and then when he was taken to five by Isner, as you guys mentioned the only guy to take Rafa this far so that was amazing. Of course the Djokovic/Federer SF was just a spectacular display of tennis between two warriors. I have never seen Federer play this solid on clay before, he was playing better in 2011 than he was in the year he won the actual title. He was out to prove a point that afternoon and prove a point he did. For him to be named the underdog in that match and then stop the Novak streak, just wow. Federer gives Djokovic a tonne of trouble in all fairness and I’m quite excited to see this battle possibly pan out in the final this year. Federer put up a good showing in the final against Nadal. The first set was perfect tennis from Roger but he crumbled in crucial moments and handed it to Rafa once again but still the best he’s played Nadal at the French- was a more competitive final than last year for sure.

    JJ, I did not appreciate tweets from you saying that the Tennis Draw Gods or whatever screwed up. This is just not true or called for. In 2011 and 2012, both Djokovic and Nadal were on opposite sides and both times nothing happened. Victory is never guaranteed and having these two play a round earlier is hardly a disaster and Novak beating Rafa at the French isn’t really a big deal because we know that he is capable of doing so. Should Federer and Djokovic meet at the French, I am certain we are going to get a competitive showing as we’ve seen in the past (barring 2012, Roger and Djokovic were both awful last clay season). I mean whilst I love the Nadal/Djokovic rivalry, I’ve had time to process this and realised that match wasn’t even competitive, Djokovic basically owned Nadal in that match. Last year in the final, other than those eight games, it still wasn’t a contest. So I don’t see the big outburst- Sure the big Djoko/Nadal match won’t be reserved for the final but who even knows if it will live up to that? Federer’s half of the draw is actually wide open and anyone can surprise us, Gulbis, Tsonga? Having Nadal and Djokovic on the same side shakes things up a bit and raises the stakes as only one man can go through to the final knowing that they have already past their biggest hurdle. Having another Djokovic/Nadal final would be fun but this is different and we don’t get different at the slams normally.

    This draw has given us a lot of fun match ups (if they play out that is). Djokovic has by far the toughest road to the final so if he does get this career slam, it has to be recognised as his best achievement thus far. Nadal hasn’t played best of 5 in over a year, there are still some questions surrounding him, he has struggled against people he would normally take care of (Ferrer?) so he isn’t guaranteed to even meet Djokovic at the semis. FO isn’t remembered for it’s final matches, it never has been. So I don’t see why this year is any different. It’s time just to sit back and relax and watch the great matches to come.

    1. Dan
      Dan May 25, 2013 at 1:22 am |

      Umm, are u saying Novak owned Rafa in the 2012 French open final? Sorry probably I missed what you are trying to say.

      Rafa will always find form for the French Open. Remember in 2012, when Ferrer troubled Rafa in Barcelona as well as Rome? Barcelona was so tight with multiple set points for ferrer. And we all know what happened in the semi final at the French. A 2, 1, 1 drubbing. If rafa reaches the semis, he will be rounded into form. I dont think he should have trouble playing best of 5 sets. This is a drill he has done a billion times before. Already he has surprised everyone with his runs so far.

      1. Tennisfan
        Tennisfan May 25, 2013 at 5:18 am |

        Sorry, I forgot to write Monte Carlo this year before I said that, cheers for the heads up.

  7. Max
    Max May 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm |

    Gaudio vs Coria and Hingis vs Graf are unreal finals.

    The French Open is borderline boring for the men.
    Just put Nadal in the final and decide who’ll play him between Novak and Roger.
    Anything else would be a surprise.

    The WTA has always been a hot mess in Paris but this year, it’s the Serena show.
    Errani could’ve another deep run although I’ll never understand how a journeywoman became a top five player.

    1. S
      S May 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm |

      Sara is bigger than the sum of her parts. As much as I love Serena, I would love to see Sara take this.

  8. Dan
    Dan May 25, 2013 at 1:27 am |

    Fabulous post. For me, 2009, 2011 and 2005 French opens were brilliant. 2005 because Rafa made his first run to the French final and it was the start of his unbelievable run there. 2009 because of the huge upset by Soderling and Fed winning it and 2011 because of the best Fedole match IMO. It been a while since i saw Federer play so well on clay. With his back still not in best shape and cold weather in paris, will not be easy for him but still u can count that he will make the final.

    Novak-Rafa is such a toss-up. If its sunny, I will favour rafa because while Novak did beat him at MC, Rafa is playing far better tennis today than then. That time his strokes were leaking errors now he has found his range. I wish that if they did meet in the semis, weather is neutral/sunny. Dont want either player’s games hampered by the weather. Rafa beat him thrice last season by tweaking his game a bit, I think he knows what needs to be done.

    1. Dan
      Dan May 25, 2013 at 1:36 am |

      Also to add, Novak has had incredibly weird mental lapses since MC. I dont buy the theory that he wanted to preserve himself for the French. I think he has hardly got any matches under his belt and needn’t preserve that much energy. I can agree that Novak lost the 2nd set to berdy but to not able to break him in that entire 3rd set is crazy! I could not believe that. I mean this is berdy, his service on clay is hardly unbreakable and on the other hand this is Novak, the best returner in the world. Just weird. Its the weirdest loss for me this year. Last year at the french, Novak had mental lapses. While Tsonga played well, I dont think he should have let Seppi take him to 5 sets.

      1. Tennisfan
        Tennisfan May 25, 2013 at 5:27 am |

        Agree of Djokovic but best of 5 sets is a different ball game. This is where his fitness and experience prevails over guys like Berdych and Dimitrov. I think he feels that the Monte Carlo victory is enough confidence needed to get the French because in the end, the guy standing in the way of this one title he is yet to get is the guy he just beat in their last meeting. Don’t take too much from those losses. Djokovic is the world number 1 for a reason, this tournament is his priority for the season-he knows he can beat Nadal, that is the confidence he is relying on in this tournament.

        1. Dan
          Dan May 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

          If novak’s plan is to tank all tournaments and just concentrate on the French Open, I wouldn’t call it the most sound strategy. Firstly, because he is putting too much pressure on himself. And Second, he gave away too much momentum to Rafa. Just today i read how Rafa was able to practice his usual 2 hours intensively on clay. Something he couldn’t do a month back. Novak would have liked to have another shot at Rafa on right before the French and he let that go. Juan concurred on the podcast about this. The idea that u tank all tournaments to focus on 1 is way too much pressure.

        2. Dan
          Dan May 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm |

          The guy he is trying to beat is someone who was well on his way to straight setting him in last year’s final playing his same game but at a much higher level. C’est dommage! the rain played spoilsport

        3. Dan
          Dan May 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm |

          Its quite hilarious that everyone is basing Novak’s one win over Rafa in MC as the sign of things to come. Not discrediting him, but he did much better in 2011 in that regard and made a better statement then entering the French. The Rafa of today is returning deeper, making lessor errors and hitting with more focus than the Rafa in MC. He has also found his range and forehand now.

          Novak will have to play the match of his life to get 3 sets of Rafa if both reach semis. By which time everyone would have rounded into form. Of course lets hope they dont play on soggy courts

  9. MarieJ
    MarieJ May 25, 2013 at 6:03 am |

    nice memories !

    as for the americans clay reccord in paris, there’s allways the question of who’s going to last longer… somehow it’s funny enough to see one of them fighting the odds on clay… the foot work is most of the times terrible when you focus on it.
    i remember one year where every single guy crashed in the first rd ! it’s not only roddick who couldn’t adjust, it was almost all of them except the bryans !
    agassi in 99 was kind of emotional, he and steffy won and got toghether… imagine if andrew lost to hrbaty that year ?

    the most memorable thing i’ve witnessed at RG ? one semi between ferrero and guga… in 2000 awesome match 5 sets of pure clay courters, i also love the final between norman and kuerten and the last game of the match where norman save like 8 or 9 MP, crazy stuff !!!
    going to RG with plenty of brazilians around to support kuerten was fantastic… only the belgians fan are more supportive with their players, in the years henin was playing you could see hundreds of them in their country flag colors… the fans coming of other countries make RG different from any other tournament held in france…

    gaudio coria was like one of the dali’s master piece of surrealism ! nobody could pull that one again ! and hopefully ever will…
    gaudio was just so awesome to watch in his good days, that bh was great, just like guga’s…
    you don’t see anymore claycourtes like them, maybe stan or gasquet but there’s something missing i can’t explain…

    then Rafa at RG… it’s been fantastic to see him going for more year after year, see his game improving, see the changes in his game, i’ve witness plenty of his matches at RG, can’t even count them…
    i knew he was going to be great at RG just after i saw him in DC final in sevilla… so when i got to see him vs federer in 2005, i just knew after the 1st point was truck he would win… he passed fed who did not realized yet you can’t voley on nadal’s FH… his rivalry with fed is the main thing that dragged me into US blogs, french blogs, making my own tennis blog… and meeting my sweet heart 😉 tennis can take you that far, i know Juan José will understand 😉

    the french open is my favorite tournament, because during years, you could see there was another way to play the game outside the fast courts, the 90’s at wimb were not that fun after edberg and becker… never warmed to sampras and his dull attitude of a “i stick to the plan” player…
    even if henman or edberg did well occasionaly, it was not their stuff… it takes a lot of will and patience to play on clay, players show a bit more their emotions because winning can be so damn hard…
    now the clay spirit has expanded to the rest of the surfaces, maybe a bit too much for my taste sometimes, i would like to see the hard courts playing a notch faster, just to see who could benefit from it… lately as much as i like rafa and co i’m a bit tired of the big 4… at RG and every where.
    i hope we have a french guy doing a run this year, would be awesome for the fans here…

  10. Alaify
    Alaify May 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

    Remember Safin dropped his pants on one of the outside courts in 2004 RG? I think that is one of the memorable moment of RG for me. So Safinisque. The same court Novak lost to Kohli in 2009 *sob*

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