The 2019 French Open is reaching its conclusion. Many felt it coming in that it was a two horse race between Djokovic and Nadal. However, there are still four players left, and all have a reasonable shot at the trophy.
Will we see Nadal win yet another title? Will Djokovic complete a second Grand Slam? Will Federer defy the odds and win? Or is it high time a new player starts to take over?
These questions will all be answered in the next two days. This, article however, will look back at the history of the Men’s singles championship. There have been many fantastic matches played in Paris, and we are going to look at arguably the top 5 greatest of the last 20 years.
#5 Andre Agassi vs Andrei Medvedev (French Open Final 1999)
Andre Agassi was the superstar of the ’90s tennis era. He may not have dominated like Sampras, but he was still more loved. Whilst often settling for second best, he achieved one key thing that his main rival didn’t.
By 1999, no male player had won all four Majors since Roy Emerson in 1964. Andre Agassi would change that, however–becoming the first to win all four by triumphing in the French Open.
This is one of the most memorable matches due to the historical significance of it, and the emotions that Agassi displayed upon winning.
Furthermore, the courts were more diverse than they are today. This arguably made it harder for any player to win on all surfaces. Which makes Agassi’s victory even more impressive and memorable.
#4 Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray (French Open Final 2016)
Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in 2016 to become the first man to hold all four Slam trophies at once in half a century.
Whilst the match itself wasn’t necessarily an epic, the significance of winning four in a row is quite great.
Many have argued that had Nadal and Federer not been on a decline in this period, Djokovic wouldn’t have achieved this.
To be fair, there could be some truth to this. Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly Djokovic’s greatest achievement, hence why it is on this list.
#3 Stan Wawrinka vs Novak Djokovic (French Open Final 2015)
In at number three, is Wawrinka’s shock victory over Djokovic. Wawrinka had proven himself by winning the Australian Open in 2014. Nonetheless, few believed he could replicate this form at the French.
Going into the final Djokovic was heavy favorite to win. What came next however, was truly miraculous.
Wawrinka countered Djokovic’s slow, grinding tennis with an unanswerable attacking barrage. For the whole match Wawrinka mercilessly hammered shots that whizzed past Djokovic.
In a stunning display of attacking tennis, Wawrinka defeated the Serb and earned his second Grand Slam title, in thrilling style.
#2 Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer (French Open Semifinal 2005)
The year was 2005, Federer was dominating the world, and Nadal was relatively unknown. This would all change as a result of their 2005 semifinal clash, however.
Going into the 2005 French Open, Federer was favorite to win it. A teenage Rafael Nadal, however, didn’t get the memo.
Nadal stormed to a one set lead in the match, and despite Federer leveling the score at 1-1, Nadal would eventually win in four sets.
This is the only match on this list that is not a final. This is largely because it was with this moment that Nadal announced himself onto the Major scene.
Not only that, but this match ultimately began his reign as the King of Clay. A title which has been rarely challenged in the one-and-a-half decades after that.
#1 Roger Federer vs Soderling (French Open Final 2009)
When Federer finally broke his Grand Slam duck in 2003, few could imagine what would follow. Between 2003-2009 Roger Federer dominated the men’s tour like no other.
Despite winning virtually every Grand Slam on offer during this period, the Swiss Maestro was unable to emulate his success on hard and grass on the red dirt of Paris.
Whilst this was mainly due to Rafael Nadal, there was an opportunity before Nadal’s reign that Federer could’ve won. This was of course in 2004, where many saw Federer as the favorite. However, Federer was shocked by Gustavo Kuerten in straight sets.
With Federer losing to Nadal between 2005-2008, many thought his chances to win in Paris were growing slim. However, in 2009, an unlikely Swede defeated Nadal and gave Federer a glimmer of hope.
In light of Nadals shock defeat, many felt that this was Federer’s year. After overcoming two grueling five setters against Tommy Haas and Juan Martin del Potro, Federer found himself in yet another final.
He would face Nadal’s conqueror, Robin Soderling. The match itself was fairly straightforward for Federer. However, when he won the match the whole stadium erupted with emotion.
The significance of the match was that Federer had finally won the French, and for many cemented himself as the Greatest Player of All Time.
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