With the French Open from Roland Garros well under way, we’ve already seen some incredible tennis and the odd shock or too to boot. 

Rafael Nadal is looking for a 13th French Open title, with the likes of US Open champion Dominic Thiem also in contention. As the final gets closer, we’ve been through the archives to pull out some of our favourite French Open moments.

Agassi vs Courier – 1991

In a match that set the scene for a new era of tennis, with America leading the way, future legends of the game Andre Agassi and Jim Courier met in the 1991 final. Both were recent graduates of Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Florida and would go on to help revolutionise the sport with their fast, hard-hitting styles.

The crowd hung on every ball. In a match that twisted and turned, Agassi came out the blocks quickly, and wrapped up the first set 6-3 with an outrageous backhand cross-court winner. Courier would bounce back in the second, taking it 6-4, but was blown away by some picture-book Agassi play in the third.

At that stage, Agassi was in the driving seat, but Courier came out like a man possessed in the final two sets, returning the very best that Agassi had to offer and making some miraculous recoveries. After winning the fourth set 6-1, Courier edged a nervy final set, sealing the match with a commanding ace to win his first Grand Slam crown.

Nadal the new King in town – 2005

Although now one of the sports great rivalries, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had yet to really ignite the contest before their French Open semi-final in 2005. Although the two had met on two occasions previously, with the scores tied at 1-1, this was the match that made it clear that these would be two men consistently competing for Grand Slams in the near future.

Aged just 19, Nadal was the new kid on the block coming into the tournament as favourite despite having never played in the French Open before – looking to upstage the then-world number one, who was looking to complete his set of all four Grand Slam tournaments. It was Federer who looked the nervier of the two in the early stages, however, wrapping up the first set with relative ease.

Although Federer recovered well in the second, in truth it looked clear that Nadal’s defensive abilities would be too much on the day, and indeed on clay more generally, as Rafa would wrap up the next two sets and the next four French Open titles.

The King is dethroned – 2009

After four straight titles for Nadal, it seemed as though a fifth was little short of a certainty as we approached the 2009 French Open, with the King of Roland Garros on a 28 match winning streak at the tournament.

After breezing through the opening rounds however, he found some trouble in the fourth round by the name of Robin Soderling. The 23rd seed came out with some point to prove, blasting his way to 6-2 in the opening set. He had his opponent on the rocks, who just looked like had no answer to the Swede.

Nadal would edge the second set tie-break, before Soderling would put him to the sword once more. He clinched the third 6-4, before winning a fourth set tie-break to upset the tennis odds and claim one of the biggest upsets in French Open history.

Seles edges Graf in a thriller – 1992

During an iconic era for women’s tennis, Monica Seles was looking to win her third consecutive French Open title as she faced then nine-time major champion Steffi Graf in the 1992 final.

Seles, still aged just 18, was already a five-time Grand Slam winner, having won her first French Open title at just 16, and showed her class throughout, making Graf work for every point. After a 6-2 opening set went Seles’ way, Graf fought back in a manor to be expected of one of the greats of the game and took the second 6-3.

In the third, the two would play out a set for the ages that would finally conclude after 18 rigorous games in which Graf survived five separate match points. Despite Graf’s desperate defences, Seles finally sealed the match with a 10-8 final set to write her name even further into French Open folklore.

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