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Sportco's Top 5 Best French Open Matches of the Modern Era

  • The French Open has always thrown up some classics pitting two equally talented players against each other. The landmark 125th edition of Roland Garros will be held from May 30 to June 13 this year.
  • Sportco takes a look at 5 best thrilling French Open matches that witnessed scintillating shot-making and kept the die-hard fans at the edge of their seats.

Best French Open Matches #1 

Rafael Nadal edges Novak Djokovic (French Open 2013 Semifinals)

The blockbuster semifinal featured 277 minutes of unforgettable tennis. The Spaniard raced ahead with a tight 6-4 lead. Djokovic fought back strongly with a convincing 6-3 win in the second set. Rafa played his topspin heavy forehand with more venom in the third set and routed the Serb 6-1.

Both tennis maestros stood head-to-head like brick walls in the fourth set. However, Novak took the upper hand once again in the fifth set with a 4-2 lead. But Rafa's powerful defense helped him thwart Djokovic's returning skills and he broke him back. 

The Serbian legend fumed at the slippery red dirt, missed a few smashes, and a poor touch at the net saw him lose the plot. Rafa had a sense of relief after breaking Djokovic to love in the 16th game (8-7).

Final Match Score: Nadal edges Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 to advance to the 2013 French Open final.

Overall, Nadal fired 61 winners and clinched 72% of his first-serve points. Djokovic was let down by a whopping 75 unforced errors though he had a better break point conversion rate of 56% than Rafa's 50%. Definitely one of the best French Open matches of the modern era.

Best French Open Matches #2

Stan Wawrinka stuns Novak Djokovic (French Open 2015 Finals)

Before their fabulous final, Djokovic led the one-sided head-to-head record 17-3 against Wawrinka

Djokovic took a 6-4 lead and Wawrinka took the second set with the same scoreline. The one-handed backhand fired on all cylinders in the third set as Stan moved ahead with a 6-3 win in the third set.

The fourth set was not short of any drama as Djokovic threw away a comfortable 3-0 lead. Wawrinka earned a championship point at 5-4 (40-30). 

In a close call, a seemingly looking ace smashed by Stan was ruled as out after the chair umpire checked the mark. Djokovic persisted and got a breakpoint. 

However, it turned out to be Wawrinka's time as the Swiss stood strong grabbing 3 points in a row to win his second grand slam title.

Final Match Score: Stan Wawrinka trounced Djokovic 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 in the 2015 French Open Final.

Stan claimed 76% of his first-serve points, hit 9 aces, pounded 59 winners, and also saved an impressive 8 out of 10 breakpoints. The Swiss dominated the long rallies, played aggressively from the baseline, and stayed ice-cool under pressure which made a big difference in the end. 

One of the best performances and matches of Stan Wawrinka in the French Open.

 

Best French Open Matches #3 

Rafael Nadal survives John Isner (French Open 2011 1st Round)

American players are not well-known on the ATP Tour for their clay-court exploits. However, John Isner gave Nadal a huge scare in the French Open 2011. His big-serving game and quick finishing of points were similar to his compatriot Andy Roddick.

The Spaniard drew first blood in a tightly-contested first set winning it 6-4. 

The crowd were stunned by Isner's stellar tennis against the King of Clay as he grabbed the second and third sets by an identical scoreline of 7-6(2) each. 

Nadal's point construction strategy backfired in the tiebreaks as the American unleashed his returns fearlessly.

Not the player to be cowed down by pressure, the Spanish superstar fought back strongly to take the fourth set 6-2 without making any unforced errors as Isner's game quality dipped. 

The fifth set was once again a close affair but Rafa's resistance took him through as he claimed it 6-4.

Final Match Score: Nadal survived Isner with a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-7 (2), 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Rafael Nadal clinched 81% and 70% of his first and second serve points respectively. Though Isner smashed 13 aces, he let his chances down with a poor 19% of return points won on the first serve. 

The American giant would have been mighty pleased with his excellent effort though as he became the first player in 7 years to drag Rafael Nadal to 5 sets at Roland Garros.

Best French Open Matches #4 

Stan Wawrinka trounces Stefanos Tsitsipas (French Open 2019 4th Round)

In a thrilling first set, Wawrinka motored ahead taking it 7-6(6) as Tsitsipas was let down by some costly unforced errors. 

The Greek star was more determined in the second set as his sweet shotmaking helped him grab it 7-5. 

Stan, the former French Open champion used his one-handed backhand to make inroads into the sixth seed's defense and clinched the third set 6-4.

When the going gets tough, the Next-Gen star gets going. Stefanos Tsitsipas called the shots in the fourth set claiming it 6-3 to force a decider. 

The sweltering heat did not stop Stan the Man as he sealed the fifth set 8-6 after a marathon match that lasted 5 hours and 9 minutes.

Tsitsipas was in tears as he lost the match despite winning more points (195) than Wawrinka (194). The Swiss breathed fire with 16 aces, saved a huge 22 out of 27 breakpoints, and also won 71% of points on his first serve.50 out of 74 points by rushing to the net with his crosscourt forehand. 

Final Match Score: Stan Wawrinka beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6.

Hence, this pulsating 5 set-thriller comes on the fourth spot on our list of the best french open matches.

Best French Open Matches #5 

Novak Djokovic pips Stefanos Tsitsipas (French Open 2020 Semifinals)

Djokovic began this match with a bang as he took a 6-3 6-2 lead. The top seed's superior returning skills were proving to be too good for Tsitsipas. 

But, how can a much-awaited clash between generations not go down to the wire? The Greek summoned all his willpower as he grabbed the third set 7-5 when he was just one point away from losing it.

The fifth seed also took the fourth set 6-4 with his strong backhand (crosscourt and down-the-line) as Court Philippe-Chatrier witnessed the unthinkable. 

Novak Djokovic used all his weapons to good effect in the crucial fifth set 6-1. Stefanos Tsitsipas was hampered by a leg injury that restricted his movement.

The epic 3-hour 54-minute clash witnessed Djokovic claiming 74% of his first-serve points, firing 56 winners. 

The Serb also saved 11 out of 15 breakpoints and won 6 out of 7 points at the net in the final set. The win ensured that Novak booked a place in his fifth French Open final behind legends Bjorn Borg (6) and Rafael Nadal (13).

Final Match Score: Novak Djokovic won 6-3, 6-2, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1 against Stefanos Tsitsipas

The second match on our list of best French Open matches where Stefanos Tsitsipas finishes as runner-up.

So, dear fans, hope you liked our in-depth description of the best French Open matches of the modern era? Which one of the above-mentioned thrillers was your favorite at the French Open? Do let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image Credits - Getty Images

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