6 greatest comebacks in the history of Roland Garros
As fans of sports, we all love to watch/read about come-from-behind victories. However, in the professional sports arena, come-from-behind wins are not as common as literature and movies would like us to believe.
In professional sports, especially in the late stages of a tournament, the front-runners are the overwhelming favourites – and they often go on to win. The old adage of “it is more difficult to stay ahead than to get ahead” often proves to be a myth, as the team or the player who jumps in the lead often crosses the finish line ahead of their opponents.
Tennis is no exception. Since opening their gates to professionals in 1969, the four Grand Slam events of the tennis calendar (Australian/French/Wimbledon and US Open) have invariably seen the players who led early ending up as the winners.
So much so that in the Open Era, Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open have never seen a single player win the men’s singles final after being down two sets to love.
The sole exception to this, to a certain extent at least, is the French Open. As many as four players in the Open Era have won the final after being down two sets to love. Two more have overturned two-sets-to-one deficits in the finals to lift the crown.
With the tournament starting next Monday, we take a walk down memory lane and review these matches. (The list is arranged in chronological order, starting from the earliest).
1. 1974 – Bjorn Borg (Sweden) defeated Manuel Orantes (Spain) 2-6 6-7 6-0 6-1 6-1
Both finalists had their share of scrappy wins on their way to the finals. Borg had to fight through five sets in the third and fourth rounds while Orantes had to come from two sets to love down in the third round against Guillermo Vilas.
In the final, Orantes came flying out of the gates fast and won the first two sets. Then the crowd at Roland Garros saw the Borg they would come to love. Confident and resolute in the face of adversity, he worked on Orantes’s game first, and then his mind, as he raced to a victory – dropping just two games in the last three sets.
Borg went on to win five more titles at the same venue. Orantes had his moment of Grand Slam glory in New York a year later when he won the US Open title by defeating Jimmy Connors.