French Open History, Trivia & Stats

Mar 30, 2009

Seeing as this is a tennis blog with a focus on the majors, I thought today I’d begin a short series on these four tennis events – Grand Slam 101 I guess you’d call it. With the French Open being the next event on the calendar, I decided that made it as good a place to start as any.

French Open Originally Very Patriotic

The French Open began in 1891 as a national tournament, and remained closed to foreign players until 1925. It was originally known as Championat de France International de Tennis, or The French Championship. It changed its name to The French Open in 1968 when it became the first Grand Slam tournament to go open, accepting both amateurs and professionals.

French men’s tennis in the late 20′s and early 30′s was very strong, with ‘The Four Musketeers’ as their top quartet of players were known, claiming 20 singles majors and 23 doubles titles over this period.

After these legends of French tennis claimed the Davis Cup in 1927, a decision was made to build a new stadium that could play host to their defense of the Cup. Tennis authorities were provided with three acres of land on which to build their new facility, on the proviso that it be named after World War 1 pilot, Roland Garros. The tournament has been held here ever since and is now played on clay, with grass being the original surface of the stadium.

The Clay Produces Some Unusual Champions

Being played on a different surface to the rest of the majors allows for a different type of player to perform well. The court is slow and has traditionally not suited serve volley type players who relied on a quicker surface. The most dramatic example of this in recent years was the great Pete Sampras’s inabilty to win there despite his phenomenal 14 combined wins at the other three majors.

In the time that Sampras failed to win, lesser credentialled players such as  Sergi Bruguera and Gustavo Kuerten were able to wrack up mulitple titles at Roland Garros whilst being unable to claim a grand slam victory anywhere else.

It is a special breed of player that can adapt their game to both clay and grass, and in the modern era there have been just four players to claim both The French Open and Wimbledon – Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal.

Trivia & Statistics In The Open Era (1968-present)


Men

Most Victories – Bjorn Borg (6)

Most Consectutive Victories – Rafael Nadal & Bjorn Borg (4)

Youngest Winner – Michael Chang in 1989 aged 17 yrs 3 months

Unseeded Winners – Marcel Bernard, Mats Wilander, Gustavo Kuerten, Gaston Gaudio

Country with Most Victories – Spain (10)

Women

Most Victories – Chris Evert (7)

Most Consectutive Victories – Monica Seles & Justine Henin (3)

Youngest Winner – Monica Seles in 1990 aged 16 yrs 6 months

Unseeded Winners – None

Country with Most Victories – U.S (13)

  • Prize money for the tournament has been equal since 2007 and in 2008 was 1 million euros for a singles victory and 300,000 euros for a doubles title.
  • Rafael Nadal currently holds the most impressive record possible on the clay of Roland Garros – he has won four straight titles which is impressive enough, but made even more so by the fact that he won at the French on his first ever attempt and is yet to lose a match there. This year he will be  attempting to become the first man to win five consecutive French Open titles in the open era.

The French Open for 2009 will begin on 24th May which is actually a Sunday, making it the only major not to commence on a Monday – this is a new tradition that was begun in 2006.

Written by: Crooksy

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