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Bernard Tomic has played just one tour-level match this year, falling as low as No. 243 in the ATP Rankings. But that did not stop the Australian in Roland Garros qualifying.
The former World No. 17 defeated Goncalo Oliveira 7-6(5), 7-5 on Friday to advance to the main draw in Paris for the eighth consecutive year. The 25-year-old, a three-time ATP World Tour titlist, did not drop a set throughout qualifying, advancing with the loss of just 3.5 games per set on average. Tomic’s qualification sets the stage for an interesting first-round matchup against compatriot Nick Kyrgios. It will be the first FedEx ATP Head2Head series meeting between the two talented Aussies.
Another former Top 20 player, 2014 Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis, also moved on. The Latvian will compete in the main draw for the 12th straight year after ousting Alessandro Giannessi 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
This will be Gulbis’ 40th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. The former World No. 10 seeks his first tour-level victory since the 2017 US Open, where he beat Giannessi in the first round before falling against eventual finalist Kevin Anderson. He will face No. 29 seed Gilles Muller in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Luxembourg’s star won their first encounter at the 2011 US Open.
Three #NextGenATP stars also advanced on Friday, with Norwegian Casper Ruud joining Spaniards Jaume Munar and Carlos Taberner in what will be the first Roland Garros main draw for all three players.
Rounding out the qualifiers on the terre battue are Guido Andreozzi, Thomaz Bellucci, Rogerio Dutra Silva, Santiago Giraldo, Martin Klizan, Jozef Kovalik and Elias Ymer.

The Grand Slams provide a unique challenge for the ATP World Tour’s stars, as players compete in a best-of-five set format. And judging by historical success, one superstar has risen to that challenge exceedingly well, which may prove important during the Roland Garros fortnight.
Novak Djokovic is second among active players in both fifth-set win-rate (75.7%) and five-set victories (28-9) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone — the only other player in the Top 5 of both categories is Feliciano Lopez (68.6%, 24-11). Only Roger Federer, 30-20, has won more five-setters than Djokovic.Most Five-Set Wins Among Active Players
 Five-Set Record
 Roger Federer
 Novak Djokovic
 Marin Cilic
 Stan Wawrinka
 Feliciano Lopez
In recent years, the former World No. 1 has been especially dominant when matches at the majors have gone the distance. Dating back to 2010 Wimbledon, the Serbian has won 19 of 23 five-setters, with 10 of those victories coming against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. Just one of his previous nine five-set triumphs came against a Top 10 opponent.
So maybe, as Djokovic continues his recovery from a right elbow injury, he will be able to lean on the confidence he has gained from battling through tough matches at Grand Slams to climb back toward the top of the ATP Rankings, in which he currently sits at No. 22. Djokovic’s most recent five-setter was in Paris last year against Diego Schwartzman. Afterward, he explained the key to his victory.
“I was mentally still strong and as calm as I could be, even though I was two sets to one down,” Djokovic said. “I kept believing I could break his resistance.”Best Fifth-Set Win-Rates Among Active Players
 Tommy Robredo
 Novak Djokovic
 Kei Nishikori
 Tomas Berdych
 Feliciano Lopez
Djokovic has not been the only one to say that. Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who leads active players with a 77.3 per cent win-rate (17-5), agrees.
“You need to be very strong physically and I think one of my qualities is that physically I’m very good. Then mentally, you have to believe,” Robredo told “I think that's because I’m strong physically, I can believe that I can do it a little bit better than others. Obviously there’s a bit of good luck, which helps. But when you’re 17-5, I think it’s more about the mental and physical [aspects].”
While Robredo did not qualify for Roland Garros this year, the terre battue is home of perhaps his most impressive streak. In 2013, he won back-to-back-to-back five-set matches from two sets down in the second round, third round and Round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the fifth time. He has won seven matches in his career from two sets down, which left him no room for error.
“To come back from two sets down, it’s important to be mentally strong, to believe that you still can. And then you have to see yourself as strong after winning the third set because you need to win two more,” Robredo said. “When you come back from two sets down to 2-1 down, the other player has to start thinking and then if you’re physically good, you have a chance.”
Besides Robredo and Djokovic, only two other active players have won more than 70 per cent of their five-setters — Kei Nishikori (72.7%, 16-6) and Tomas Berdych (72.4%, 21-8). Rounding out the Top 5 is Feliciano Lopez, who holds a 24-11 record (68.6%).
And if the stats showing Djokovic's prowess in these categories are not enough, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal shared his thoughts about the longer format at Grand Slams after defeating Alexander Zverev to claim his eighth Internazionali BNL d’Italia title last weekend.
“Tennis is tennis. It doesn't matter best of three, best of five,” Nadal said. “[But] playing best of five is a big advantage for the best players.”
Could that be a key for Djokovic in the French capital?Explore the FedEx ATP Performance Zone

Rafael Nadal has been tested — by his body, as well as his opponents this year — in pressure situations and he arrives at Roland Garros full of confidence and seeking his 11th trophy at the clay-court major.
In spite of an outstanding 79-2 record on Parisian red dirt, the World No. 1 cannot define what makes May in the French capital so pleasing. “I’m not sure what it is about Roland Garros that brings out the best in me; but playing on clay, where I've had so much success, and also having to play best-of-five matches, all of that makes a difference."
Set to face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round, the 31-year-old feel’s he's physically in a good place, but is well aware he'll need to be better than good if he's to win his 17th Grand Slam championship trophy.
"I'm feeling good,” said Nadal, who had suffered from a right hip injury earlier in the year. “Of course, after a very tough start to the season with two injuries, I've managed to come back and play very well. I’ve played a lot of matches this season and have had good success. Every tournament is different, and here in Paris we're trying to get in some solid practices so that I'm fit and ready for my first match. I want to be as competitive as I can be from the start."
The Spanish superstar has dominated the spring European clay swing, winning 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), in addition to his 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown — and eighth — Internazionali BNL d’Italia last week (d. A. Zverev). With a 23-2 mark this year, he has compiled a 19-1 record on red dirt.
But it was his Madrid quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem, on 11 May, which snapped 21-match and 50 consecutive sets winning streaks on clay courts, in addition to battling wins over Fabio Fognini, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev at the Foro Italico in Rome, which have tested the mettle of the World No. 1.
"Everyone knows Madrid is the most difficult clay court event of the season," Nadal explained. "Because of the high altitude, the balls tend to fly. I lost. After that, it was important for me to stay strong mentally and to focus on Rome.
"I think I played a good tournament in Rome, winning some important matches, and at the same time pushing through tough situations — situations that I didn't have to endure at events leading up to this. I’ve had plenty of high-pressure moments, and I came back from a set down against Fognini. Then, I played a very tough first set against Novak in the semi-finals. The final had a little bit of everything. These situations help to keep me going and help me stay confident. It's tennis; it's normal to find yourself in difficult spots like I did [in Rome]."
After a one-week hiatus, following his loss in Madrid, Nadal is back at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings and looking forward to creating more history in Paris.

Alexander Zverev may have won two titles and compiled a 14-match winning streak during the clay swing, to rank as one of the hottest talents on red dirt this year, but he isn’t leaving anything to chance on his third appearance at Roland Garros.
The German entered the clay-court major last year on the back of winning the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, but lost in the first round to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
“I've played good tennis in the clay-court season so far, and I know that I'm able to do so hopefully here, as well,” said Zverev, in Paris, on Friday. “But, I just want to go match by match and see how the tournament goes and we'll see who will play his best tennis here.
“I'm not trying to think ahead. I have done that before in Grand Slams, and I lost early. I'm going to try to avoid that. I'm going to try to prepare myself the best I can and play the best tennis I can. The rest will take care of itself.”
Zverev, who will play Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the first round next week, features in the bottom quarter that includes 2015 titlist Stan Wawrinka, two-time semi-finalist Dominic Thiem and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters runner-up Kei Nishikori.
“If I lose to somebody that plays better than me on that day, and I have done everything right and I have played great tennis during the day and I lost, that's okay, as well, because it happens. Sometimes other players are better than you.
"But I know that right now it's more about preparing yourself for the long match, preparing yourself for the best tennis that you might play here.”
In his 11 previous Grand Slam championship appearances, Zverev has only reached the fourth round once at Wimbledon in 2017.
“This is a long tournament with a lot of hard matches,” said Zverev, the second seed. “I'm not trying to think that I'm going to play Rafa in the final. That's not how I'm thinking. I'm thinking about every single match. I'm thinking about how to beat Berankis in the first round. That's my thought process right now.”
The 21-year-old Zverev has put together an ATP World Tour-high 30 match wins this year (30-8), which includes two titles from four finals. He’s won 16 of his past 18 matches, including back-to-back triumphs at the BMW Open by FWU (d. Kohlschreiber) and the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem).
“It's obviously been a fantastic clay court season for me,” said Zverev on Friday. “Winning so many matches in a row, as well, over a period of Munich, Madrid, and Rome (l. to Nadal), was great coming in here.
“Obviously, there is a lot of other great players playing here, Rafa, Novak, and everybody. They are all getting on top of their game. I think this is going to be a very interesting tournament.”
Michael Stich remains the only German in the Open Era (since April 1968) to have reached the Roland Garros final. Stich was beaten by former World No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the 1996 title match.

The preparation is now over. After three clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, two 500-level tournaments on the surface and 11 ATP World Tour 250 events, the ATP World Tour is ready to take on Roland Garros. There is a lot on the line on the Parisian terre battue, with a massive 2,000 ATP Rankings and ATP Doubles Rankings points available for the winners. From former champions to the rapidly rising #NextGenATP, tennis fans are in for a treat as the fortnight is set to begin.View Draw1) Undécima: Rafael Nadal eyes a historic 11th championship at Roland Garros, where he could tie Margaret Court at the Australian Open for the most titles won by a man or woman at a Grand Slam event. Nadal is 79-2 at Roland Garros and 104-2 in best-of-five-set matches on clay. Outside of the World No. 1’s two losses, only John Isner (2011) and Novak Djokovic (2013) have pushed Nadal to five sets in Paris before losing.
[ALSO LIKE]2) Rafa In Form: Nadal, who turns 32 on 3 June, is 19-1 on clay this season with his 11th Monte-Carlo, 11th Barcelona and eighth Rome titles. He must win his 11th Roland Garros title to remain No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. Otherwise, Roger Federer will resume as World No. 1 on 11 June. From last year’s event on the terre battue until this year’s Rome quarter-finals, Nadal won 50 consecutive sets on clay, a record for most sets won in a row on a single surface.3) Sensational Sascha: World No. 3 Alexander Zverev has reached five of the past 10 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals, winning three titles. Could this be the moment for the 21-year-old German to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final? Zverev leads the ATP World Tour with 30 wins this season. He is also No. 1 in the ATP Race to London, ahead of Federer by 25 points and Nadal by 95 points entering Roland Garros.Read Draw Preview: Zverev In Loaded Bottom Quarter4) Party Of Two: There have been 16 World No. 3s since 25 July 2005, while only Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray have been in the Top 2. Zverev can become No. 2 if he wins the title and Nadal does not reach the final or if he advances to the final and Nadal loses in the first round.5) Rare Company: Djokovic is one of two men to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros, joining Robin Soderling by beating the Spaniard 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in the 2015 quarter-finals. Now 7-16 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Nadal on clay, Djokovic is the only player with at least four clay-court wins against the 10-time champion.6) Dominant Thiem: World No. 8 Dominic Thiem earned his third FedEx ATP Head2Head clay-court victory over Nadal on 11 May in Madrid, snapping the Spaniard’s 21-match and 50-set win streaks on the surface. Thiem has reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in the past two seasons.7) Stan The Man: Who has the most wins at Roland Garros since 2015? Not Nadal. Not Djokovic. Stan Wawrinka, that’s who. The Swiss is 18-2 on the Parisian clay over the last three years, winning the title in 2015, reaching the semi-finals in 2016 and advancing to the final in 2017.8) Delpo Rising: Few players have impressed as much early on in 2018 as Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine won 22 of his first 26 matches to start the year, claiming his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open, ending Federer’s 17-match winning streak streak in the final.9) #NextGenATP Watch: The Top 5 players in the ATP Race to Milan will be in action, including Frances Tiafoe, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov. Tiafoe won his first ATP World Tour title at Delray Beach, Tsitsipas reached his maiden tour-level final at Barcelona, and Shapovalov is the new No. 1 Canadian in the ATP Rankings.Read: Bryans' Slam Streak To End10) Super Streaks: Feliciano Lopez will play his 65th consecutive Grand Slam main draw at Roland Garros, tying Federer for the all-time singles record. Mike Bryan is appearing at his 77th straight major in doubles, but first without his injured twin brother, Bob Bryan. Sam Querrey will team with Mike and try to help the 40-year-old become the oldest World No. 1 in ATP Doubles Rankings history.

There's nothing like Paris in the springtime, they say. As these 10 epics—the 10 most memorable French Open matches of the Open Era—show, there's also nothing quite as stirring or sensation as tennis in Paris at this time of year.
Night after night, Betty Chang and her 17-year-old son Michael would turn on the news in their hotel room in Paris. Along with the rest of the world, they stared anxiously as a political protest that had convulsed the Chang’s ancestral Chinese homeland for seven weeks wound to its brutal conclusion in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
“We were glued to the TV,” Chang told Tennis Magazine 20 years later. “The tanks came in on the middle Sunday.”
The tournament was the 1989 French Open, and its middle Sunday fell on June 4th. That was the day China’s communist rulers cleared Beijing’s most famous public square of thousands of students who had set up camp to demand democratic reforms. The official death toll, after the army rolled in under cover of night, was put at 200, but it was likely between 2,000 and 3,000 people.
“It made fighting to win a tennis match seem like peanuts,” Chang said. “By the time the next week was over, my goal was to put a few smiles on the faces of Chinese people around the world.”
The following day, June 5, the world was given the most lasting image of the Tiananmen protests. Rather than putting smiles on face, it made jaws drop. An unidentified man in civilian clothes, widely called “The Unknown Rebel,” was videotaped single-handedly bringing a formation of tanks to a halt at an intersection near the square.
That same day in Paris, Chang walked onto center court at Roland Garros to face No. 1 seed Ivan Lendl. Their fourth-round match would create many lasting images of its own. It was a four-hour war of attrition and three-act drama that bent the rules of the game to the point where the match began to teeter on the anarchic. Even before it was over, as an outraged Lendl prepared to serve the final point to a tearful and seemingly possessed Chang, the U.S. commentator Barry Tompkins called it a “magic moment for the sport.”
Roland Garros Moments—Chang defeats Lendl in 1989: 
Chang was seeded 15th, but he had reason to feel like he could hang with the three-time champion. He had dropped just one set in his first three matches, which included a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win over fellow California teenager named Pete Sampras. Against Lendl, though, he lost the first two sets and appeared to be overmatched. Chang’s serves and forehands floated softly and landed short. What’s more, he knew that Lendl was well aware of his weaknesses.
“We’d played in an event the year before in before in Des Moines [Iowa],” Chang said. “Ivan beat me and we rode in the same car back to the hotel.” On the way, Lendl gave the rookie a little tough love.
“He said, ‘First off, you’ve got no serve. And you’ve certainly got no second serve. You can’t hurt me. You can run but you better develop a weapon to survive out here.’”
“I worked on those things,” Chang said, “and I was able to hurt Ivan the next year at the French with them.”
Chang was a grinder at heart, but he had to change the dynamic against Lendl. He turned the tide in the third and fourth sets with inspired all-court play. But just as he had worked himself back into the match, Chang cramped. At 2-1 in the fifth, he began to walk to the chair to retire, but stopped halfway there.
“I thought, ‘You’ve fought this far, why would you quit?’ I had a conviction that I would finish the match any way I could. I decided I would do anything out there, lob, moonball, go for winners.”
Desperation paid off. As the fifth set progressed, Chang would take pace off the ball and back his opponent into one corner, then go for broke up the other line, leaving Lendl well out of position. The packed stadium roared incredulously as Chang kept finding new ways to survive.
Chang bunted service returns straight into the air and followed them to net. He paced the sidelines during changeovers rather than sit down and risk not being able to get up. After one point, he took so long drinking water that he received a time violation warning, then kept drinking anyway.
At 4-2, 15-30, Chang went even further. He set up in his usual service stance, but instead of tossing the ball up, he dropped it and flicked a side-spinning underhand serve. A startled Lendl moved forward too quickly and ended up coming in behind a weak approach. Chang’s passing shot skimmed the tape, and Lendl couldn’t handle the volley. Chang stalked forward, pumping his arms wildly. Audience members gasped, shrieked, shook their heads and looked at each other to confirm that they’d just seen what they thought they’d seen.
If any tennis match deserved a final dramatic twist, it was this one. Chang, the innocent California kid turned diabolical ringmaster for a day, provided it. Lendl set up to serve down 3-5, 15-40—double match point against him. He missed his first serve. Chang, fidgeting uncontrollably, walked all the way up to a spot about a foot behind the service line.
The crowd whistled with a mix of confusion and derision. Lendl began to bark at the chair umpire. When it was clear that nothing would be done about Chang’s position or the crowd noise, he shook his head in frustration and resignation, as if he knew that he couldn’t fight destiny on this day. His second serve clipped the net cord and bounded long. Chang covered his face and fell to the ground in tears of pain and joy.
Chang would go on to upset Stefan Edberg in five sets in the final to become the youngest male Grand Slam champion (he still is). Years later, Lendl offered no opinion on Chang’s tactics that day, just terse respect for his achievement.
“Lots of times a lesser player could beat me and not back it up,” Lendl said. “You’d have to say he was a lesser player then, but Michael backed it up.”
Two weeks after his miracle in Paris, Chang traveled to Wimbledon. He spotted Lendl in the players’ lounge.
“I wasn’t sure how he would react,” Chang said. “But he walked up to me, looked me in the eye, and said, ‘Great French Open, Michael. Congratulations.’”
“Before that tournament,” Chang said, “I didn’t know what to think of myself as an American. I was just this little kid who looked different from everyone. That week was the first time I really knew what it meant to be Chinese.”
Chang would never win another major. He would never again play with such desperate resourcefulness. He would never hit another underhand serve.
—Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.
—Catch up and watch all your favorite stars anytime on-demand with Tennis Channel Plus.

There's nothing like Paris in the springtime, they say. As these 10 epics—the 10 most memorable French Open matches of the Open Era—show, there's also nothing quite as stirring or sensation as tennis in Paris at this time of year.
From the vantage point of 2018, Seles vs. Graf is the Rivalry That Should Have Been. But in early June 1992, it was very much the match-up of the moment, and one that appeared destined to match the length and intensity of the last great WTA rivalry, between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
When they stepped onto Court Philippe Chatrier for the ’92 French Open final, a long future together seemed to be ahead of them. Graf, despite having won a calendar-year Grand Slam four years earlier, was still a few days from her 23rd birthday, while Seles, despite having won four of the last five majors, was just 19. Seles was No. 1 in the world, Graf No. 2; it had been two years since any other woman had won a major.
In the late 1980s, Steffi had looked unstoppable. She finished that decade by winning seven of the last majors, and in the 1988 French Open final she beat Natasha Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in 32 minutes. Few could have imagined that anyone tougher or better than Graf  would come along anytime soon. Even fewer could have imagined that it would be a 99-pound 15-year-old who swung with two hands on both sides. But that’s what Seles was when she made her debut in 1988. By 1990, she had taken Graf’s French Open title; by ’91, she had taken her No. 1 ranking; by the spring of ’92, tennis fans were wondering if Seles, who was 4-0 in major finals, could be stopped.
For the first 30 minutes of this match, it didn’t look like Graf was going to be the one to slow her down. After a feeling-out process over the first few games, Seles gradually upped the pace on her baseball-swing strokes, and ran away with the first set. For years, it had been Graf’s opponents who had tried to find ways to disrupt her all-powerful game. Now the shoe was on the other foot. It was Graf who was forced to find ways—mixing spins and paces, keeping the ball low or high—to disrupt Seles’s ultra-solid two-fisted attack. In the second set, Graf succeeded. Using her serve as her primary weapon and trying to be the aggressor, she pushed her younger rival to a third set.
WATCH—Seles defeats Graf to win the 1992 French Open title: 
It turned out to be one for the ages—18 games and 91 minutes of fierce back and forth between two Hall-of-Famers at the peaks of their powers. On one side, Graf was steely and silent as she launched her ground strokes into the corners; on the other, Seles’s grunt grew louder and more desperate with each lunging retrieval she made. By now, Graf was dictating most of the rallies with her rifle forehand, and Seles was forced to run herself nearly to exhaustion to stay in the points. She was so tired, she said, that Graf’s shots seemed to be coming toward her in slow motion.
Graf made a specialty of winning these types of epics over the years. In 1987, she beat Martina Navratilova 8-6 in the third set in the French Open final; in 1991 she beat Gabriela Sabatini by the same score in the Wimbledon final; in 1993, she would come back from 1-4 down in the third set to beat Jana Novotna at Wimbledon; and in 1996 she would beat Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 10-8 in the third to win Roland Garros. But on this day, she couldn’t crack Seles.
“She’s definitely a tough one,” Steffi said afterward.
While Seles was on the defensive in the rallies, she remained ahead on the scoreboard. She served for the match at 8-7, and held five match points. Graf came up with winning answers each time, but she couldn’t do it again on Seles’s sixth match point. Forced to redline her forehand, Steffi sent her last one into the net. Seles was too spent to celebrate.
“It’s the most emotional match I ever played,” Seles said, “not just in a Grand Slam, but in any tournament...It couldn’t have been a better final.”
As usual, there were no moral victories for Graf: “There is no satisfaction,” she said.
Nothing could stop Seles, it seemed, until that fateful, hideous day in Hamburg the following spring, when she was stabbed by Gunter Parche, forever to be known as a “deranged Steffi Graf fan.” Because of that, Graf and Seles would be linked in a way that no one expected or wanted. More than any other match between them, their 1992 French Open final shows us what we missed, and what the Rivalry That Should Have Been was like while it lasted.
—Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.
—Catch up and watch all your favorite stars anytime on-demand with Tennis Channel Plus.

Steve Tignor is at Roland Garros to cover the 2018 French Open. You can read his women's bracket breakdown here, and all of his reports from Paris here.
PARIS—Who needs favorites? The women’s draw seems as intriguing as ever without them. What you have instead are possibilities: A return to center stage for Serena Williams; redemption for Simona Halep; a satisfying step up from Elina Svitolina or Karolina Pliskova; a feel-good story to end all feel-good stories from Petra Kvitova. Let’s see which one of these fairytales, if any, is most likely to come true over the next two weeks.
First Quarter
For right now, we don’t have to worry about the final-round phobia that has cost Halep six of her last seven title matches. The question is: can she get out of this section? She may be nursing a bad back, and not overflowing with confidence, but looking at her draw, a trip to the semis seems more likely than not. The second-highest seed here is Caroline Garcia, who has never been to a Slam semifinal. Next is Angelique Kerber, who has never past the quarterfinals in Paris.
But there are pair of hard-hitting Kikis to watch, Bertens and Mladenovic. They can take the rallies to Halep, which she doesn’t like.
Also here: Elise Mertens, one of the stars of this spring.
First-round match to watch: Bertens vs. Aryna Sabalenka
Semifinalist: Halep
WATCH—Halep's pre-tournament presser at Roland Garros
Second Quarter
Three-time champion Serena Williams, two-time champion Maria Sharapova, 2016 champion Garbiñe Muguruza, and No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova have all landed in this section. Pliskova won in Stuttgart and reached the semis here last year; Sharapova made the semis in Rome last week and finally, for the first time in two years, showed that she can still be the player she once was. Serena? She hasn’t had her I’m Back moment in 2018 yet. It may be more likely to come at Wimbledon than Paris, but you know it’s coming.
Also here: Belinda Bencic, Julia Goerges, CoCo Vandeweghe, Magdalena Rybarikova
First-round match to watch: Muguruza vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Semifinalist: Pliskova
Third Quarter
Svitolina is exactly where she was a year ago: Champion in Rome, and one of the favorites for Paris. And just like last year, she still hasn’t made a Grand Slam semifinal. Can she really win the whole thing without that late-round experience? She says that’s the goal, and that she has accepted the challenge of winning a major, with no excuses. Svitolina’s draw will make her earn it, though. Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka are all here.
Semifinalist: Svitolina
WATCH—Stories of the Open Era, the 1968 French Open
Fourth Quarter
Is it Kvitova’s time in Paris? She’s only been to the semis once here in nine tries, but since January, she has been the WTA player of the year. Judging from her recent comments, she also may have begun to believe in her chances at Roland Garros for the first time. Even Kvitova would probably have to admit her draw gives her a chance. The top seed in this section is Caroline Wozniacki, who is no dirt-baller herself.
Also here: Sloane Stephens, Daria Kasatkina
First-round match to watch: Wozniacki vs. Danielle Collins
Semifinalist: Kvitova
Semifinals: Pliskova d. Halep; Kvitova d. Svitolina
Final: Kvitova d. Pliskova
—Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.
—Catch up and watch all your favorite stars anytime on-demand with Tennis Channel Plus.

Steve Tignor is at Roland Garros to cover the 2018 French Open. You can read his women's bracket breakdown here, and all of his reports from Paris here.
PARIS—Is there any reason to mention anyone other than Rafael Nadal, if you’re asking who might win the Roland Garros men’s event this year? The short answer, and long answer, is no. But there’s more to a major than the winner, at least as it’s happening. Here’s a look at how the next two weeks in Paris might play out, and who has the best shot of finishing second, third and fourth on the men’s side.
First Quarter
It isn’t that Nadal can’t lose; it’s just that there’s no reason to think, based on his form, his clay competition this spring, and his draw, to predict that he will. It’s not like Rafa needed a smooth path to the semifinals, but he’s been given one anyway. He starts against Alexandr Dolgopolov, a talented player who has beaten Nadal in the past, at Indian Wells. But best-of-five at Roland Garros is a different story, one that doesn’t play to Dolgo’s sporadic strengths. After that, the bold-faced names in this section are Kevin Anderson, Jack Sock, Denis Shapovalov, Diego Schwartzman, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Richard Gasquet. That’s a Rafa-friendly section.
Semifinalist: Nadal
WATCH—Nadal's pre-tournament press conference at Roland Garros
Second Quarter
This also looks like a Rafa-friendly section. Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro are the top two seeds here, followed by John Isner, Kyle Edmund and Tomas Berdych. Based on his early-year form,Delpo should be the man to beat, but he left Rome hurt, and even healthy he hasn’t done much on clay. Cilic, of course, reached the Australian Open final, and he did make the quarters at Roland Garros last year. How about Edmund? His lethal forehand works on clay, and he’s been to the semis of one Slam already this season. Two straight sounds like a lot to ask at this stage, but whoever comes out of this very open section is likely to be something of a surprise.
First-round matches to watch: Edmund vs. Alex de Minaur; Fabio Fognini vs. Pablo Andujar; Berdych vs. Jeremy Chardy
Semifinalist: Cilic
Third Quarter
Where are those players who might have given Rafa a scare, at least on paper? A few have landed here: Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Nick Kyrgios, Gael Monfils and Grigor Dimitrov. If nothing else, it’s an entertaining quarter. I’d say it will come down either to Goffin, who is due for a deep run on his favorite surface at Roland Garros, or Djokovic, who showed full-fledged signs of life last week in Rome, and should still be fresh for Paris.
Semifinalist: Djokovic
WATCH—Stories of the Open Era, the 1968 French Open
Fourth Quarter
Bad luck for the Next Clay Gen, and for the tournament: No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev and No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem have landed in the same quarter, which means one of them will be out in the quarterfinals. Both players made themselves into viable contenders for a French Open title—or at least a runner-up finish—this spring. Speaking of runners-up: Stan Wawrinka, 2015 champion and 2017 finalist, is in this quarter as well; he starts against a player who beat him here a couple of years ago, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Also here: Kei Nishikori, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov
First-round matches to watch: Lucas Pouille vs. Daniil Medvedev; Frances Tiafoe vs. Sam Querrey
Semifinalist: Zverev
Semifinals: Nadal d. Cilic; Zverev d. Djokovic
Final: Nadal d. Zverev
—Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.
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If you are unfamiliar with Hubert Hurkacz, you’ll know the #NextGenATP Pole well soon. The 21-year-old defeated Argentine Marco Trungelliti 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the final round of Roland Garros qualifying on Thursday in one hour, 55 minutes to move into his first Grand Slam main draw.
Hurkacz seeks his first ATP World Tour win, but he has enjoyed plenty of success on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2018, helping him to the No. 13 spot in the ATP Race To Milan. He made the final, semi-finals and quarter-finals at three consecutive Challenger events in China. The only Polish man in the men’s singles draw, Hurkacz owns a 2-9 tour-level record, and will look to make a splash on the terre battue.
American Denis Kudla will play in his third Roland Garros main draw after the No. 7 seed beat No. 24 seed Jurgen Zopp 6-2, 6-1.
“Clay has never been my best surface, that’s no secret, but I’ve been playing really well in the lead-up without results really being there,” Kudla told “I’m happy I really showed up for Roland Garros for the big show.”
Czech Adam Pavlasek will compete in the main draw for the second time after ousting Austrian Dennis Novak 7-6(8), 6-4. Pavlasek beat this year’s Quito champion, Roberto Carballes Baena, to make the second round in 2016.
“I feel amazing after the way I’ve played in all three matches of qualies," Pavlasek said. "I’m just so happy to make the main draw again, that was tough.”
Rounding out the early qualifiers is Belarusian Ilya Ivashka, who will debut on the Parisian clay after defeating Ukrainian veteran Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2. The No. 2 seed in qualifying broke out on the ATP World Tour earlier this year with a run to the Marseille semi-finals, which included a win against Stan Wawrinka.
The remaining 12 qualifiers will be decided on Friday, with notable players such as #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud and 2014 Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis in action.

Bob Bryan will take on a new role during this year's Roland Garros: coach.
The left-handed half of one of the all-time greatest doubles teams will miss the season's second Grand Slam, marking the first time since the 1999 Australian Open that a Grand Slam doubles draw won't feature the American twins.
Their streak of 76 consecutive Grand Slams will be snapped, but not by choice. Bob is still recovering from the right hip injury he suffered during the Mutua Madrid Open doubles final on 13 May. The Bryans retired down 3-5.
“We've played Slams before where we've been a little hurt and sick, and we've always been able to tough it out. This one I couldn't get on my feet,” Bob told Brothers At Grand Slams
Australian Open
Roland Garros
US Open
He tried rehabbing his hip and set timelines for his return, but the deadlines kept coming and going, until he told his brother he wouldn't be making the trip to Paris, where they captured their first Grand Slam title in 2003 and won their second Roland Garros title in 2013.
“I couldn't physically get on the court,” Bob said.
Mike Bryan, however, will be in the Roland Garros doubles draw with longtime friend Sam Querrey, who will be Mike's seventh different partner during tour-level competition.Playing Without Bob: Times Mike Bryan Has Played Without His Twin Brother
2002 Sydney (Rikl)
2002 St. Poelten (M. Hill)
2002 Nottingham (Knowles)
2002 Long Island (Bhupathi)
2008, 2012 Davis Cup (Fish)
2015 Vienna (Johnson)
Years ago, in 2002, Mike won two ATP World Tour titles with people not named “Bob”: Nottingham with Mark Knowles, and Long Island with Mahesh Bhupathi. But this will be the first time he's played a Grand Slam with someone else.
“I don't know what to expect,” Mike Bryan told “[Querrey] brings a lot of weapons to the table, he brings a lot firepower... I think it will be fun. We're really close.”
The injury comes at a particularly unfortunate time for the 40-year-old Bryans, who have been rewinding the clock to their glory years. The two reached the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells and won the Miami Open presented by Itau and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters titles before having to retire in Madrid.
“It's been great to win big titles again. I feel like we're playing as well as any team out there right now. Hopefully this is not a big step back to our momentum. It's been a great run and I want to keep it going so I'm going to just do everything in my power to get back as soon as possible,” Bob said.
He plans to return in time for the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen's Club, which begins 18 June. Bob will be watching his brother and Querrey and scouting opponents from his home in California. He sees the new squad making a deep run. “I think they can do some serious damage,” Bob said.
And if Mike wins it all with Querrey, Bob said, “He'll have a extra Slam.”
The twins currently have 116 tour-level team titles, including 38 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns and 16 Grand Slam titles.
The brothers have seen it happen in the past. Newly formed teams ride the honeymoon period and string together matches off their relationship high. It's not something they've had to think about in the past, but at this year's Roland Garros, everything will be different for the Bryans.
“Hopefully we can draw on some of that magic and just have fun. I think Sam plays his best when it's not too serious. I have no expectations. Obviously we're going to be floating around the draw, and we're going to be unseeded,” Mike said. “Who knows what will happen? I'm here, and I'm motivated to keep playing some good tennis without Bob and have a good run.”

Rafael Nadal will begin his quest for an 11th Roland Garros title against Alexandr Dolgopolov, but all eyes in Paris will be on a loaded bottom half, which features Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, 2015 titlist Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and 2016 champion Novak Djokovic.
In-form second seed Zverev, the winner of 16 of his past 18 matches (and an ATP World Tour Tour-leading 30-8 overall), will have to beat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in his opener, with the prospect of a fourth-round clash against Wawrinka or Lucas Pouille. Thiem or Nishikori may then lie in wait for the recent BMW Open by FWU and Mutua Madrid Open champion in the quarter-finals.
World No. 8 Thiem, who has reached back-to-back Roland Garros semi-finals (2016-17), faces a qualifier, but may play Nishikori in the fourth round. Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters finalist Nishikori faces French wild card Maxime Janvier in the first round, while former World No 3 Wawrinka, who was in action this week at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, challenges Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.VIEW DRAW
Former World No. 1 Djokovic, who is currently No. 22 in the ATP Rankings, starts against a qualifier, but could face fourth seed Dimitrov in the fourth round. The Serbian star, who underwent elbow surgery following the Australian Open in January, last week showed flashes of a return to peak form in losing to Nadal in the Rome semi-finals. Djokovic has a 59-12 record at the Paris major. Dimitrov, who is 16-10 in 2018 and has reached the Roland Garros third round on two previous occasions, starts against Viktor Troicki of Serbia.
World No. 1 Nadal has a 7-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against his first-round Ukrainian opponent Dolgopolov and could potentially meet Canadian Denis Shapovalov or American Jack Sock in the fourth round, prior to a potential quarter-final against sixth seed Kevin Anderson – who opens against Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. Nadal has suffered just two losses in 81 matches at the clay-court Grand Slam championship – to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and to Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.
The Spanish superstar has a 19-1 clay-court record this year (23-2 overall), which includes 11th titles at both Monte-Carlo (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), in addition to an eighth crown at last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia (d. A. Zverev).
World No. 4 Marin Cilic, who reached last year’s quarter-finals and is 18-8 in 2018, features in the second quarter of the draw alongside 2009 semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro. Cilic, who advanced to his first clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final last week in Rome, plays Australia’s James Duckworth and may face Fabio Fognini of Italy or Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the fourth round.
Del Potro, who is recovering from a left leg injury, meets France’s Nicolas Mahut and could potentially meeting 2010 semi-finalist Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the fourth round. Del Potro went on a 15-match winning streak earlier this year (23-6 overall), including titles at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (d. Anderson) and his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer).
The 2018 Roland Garros draw ceremony was held at L'Orangerie, located in the botanical gardens of the site, featuring Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, three-time world figure skating champions (2015, 2016 and 2018) and winners of the silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang.

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If you thought you could wait to get the popcorn cooking for Roland Garros, think again. There are plenty of intriguing matchups in the first round of the clay-court Grand Slam, and the ATP World Tour's best are ready to put on a show on the Parisian terre battue.Rafael Nadal v Alexandr Dolgopolov
Any time that Nadal, who has triumphed at Roland Garros a record 10 times, steps foot on the terre battue, it’s must-watch material. But the fact that Dolgopolov has beaten Nadal twice before (2-7) in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series makes this worth your attention that much more. The Ukrainian, who climbed as high as No. 13 in the ATP Rankings, failed to win a set in the pair’s first five matches. But the shotmaking right-hander beat the Spaniard at Indian Wells in 2014 and the following year at Queen’s Club, and has the talent to take the racquet out of many players’ hands.
So is Dolgopolov truly a threat to Nadal in the opening round in Paris? It is tough to make that declaration considering Nadal won 50 consecutive sets on clay, a record for most sets won in a row on a single surface, from 2017 Roland Garros through Madrid earlier this month. The Spaniard has won 39 of his 42 first-round sets in Paris, with two of those coming in a 2011 five-setter against John Isner. Nadal has conceded just more than nine games per match in his 13 opening-round wins. But the Ukrainian is one of the most aggressive players on the ATP World Tour, and will swing for winner after winner, for better or worse. But, if Nadal is able to neutralise the 29-year-old’s efforts and step into the baseline, as will likely be the case, expect the Spaniard to improve on his 79-2 record at Roland Garros.Sam Querrey v Frances Tiafoe
This is a battle of Americans that would be plenty entertaining even if it were to occur in a later round in Paris. But the second-ranked player from the United States, Querrey, will attempt to hold off #NextGenATP Tiafoe’s charge in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head series meeting. Tiafoe has proven to be in great form this year, sitting at No. 4 in the ATP Race To Milan. The 20-year-old entered the season having never reached a tour-level quarter-final. But he won his first ATP World Tour crown at the Delray Beach Open and advanced to the final at the Millennium Estoril Open. Querrey, on the other hand, is just two spots off of his career-best ATP Ranking (No. 11) and looking to make an impact in France.
Querrey is at his best when dictating with his forehand at the first opportunity. And when the 30-year-old is able to do so, there are few players on the ATP World Tour who can stop him. But Tiafoe is one of the most athletic players on the circuit, and the #NextGenATP American will attempt to stave off the No. 12 seed’s aggressive play so he can take control himself. Look out for which player will make the most of their opportunities. When they played in Shanghai last October, Querrey saved nine of 10 break points en route to his victory. Tiafoe fell in five sets at Roland Garros last year. Will his newfound confidence allow him to break through on the terre battue?Kyle Edmund v Alex de Minaur
Few players began the 2018 ATP World Tour campaign as well as Edmund and De Minaur. The current British No. 1 broke through to the Australian Open semi-finals, the best result of his career. Despite beginning the season outside the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings, #NextGenATP Aussie De Minaur battled to his first semi-final in Brisbane before advancing to his maiden ATP World Tour final in Sydney. By the way, the Aussie is just 19 years old. Yet, he has surged with the maturity of a veteran, climbing quickly to his current career-high of World No. 106.
The pair began their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry earlier this year on Estoril’s clay, with Edmund moving on in straight sets. The key lay in the second-serve stats — Edmund won 54 per cent of points on his second delivery, while de Minaur claimed just 38 per cent of his. The Brit will look to attack with his massive forehand whenever possible, especially with more time to set up on the Parisian clay. But the question that will be answered in this match will be simple: Will the Aussie manage to hold off Edmund’s offence long enough to counter-attack?Philipp Kohlschreiber v Borna Coric
The duo’s most recent FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting was one of the wildest clashes on the ATP World Tour last season. In the Marrakech final, Kohlschreiber led by a break in both the second set and the third set, and even held five championship points to claim what would have been his eighth tour-level trophy. But instead, Coric stormed back to earn his maiden ATP World Tour title. Since then, the Croatian has qualified for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, made the semi-finals at Indian Wells this year and followed that up with a quarter-final showing in Miami.
So while Kohlschreiber is the No. 22 seed, Coric will make this a popcorn-worthy first-round match. It will be interesting to see which player will be able to hold his ground on the baseline. While Kohlschreiber stands 5’10” and Coric 6’1”, neither player shies away from being the aggressor in rallies. In fact, both have heavy forehands, and especially on the clay, they will look to keep one another deep in the court with heavy deliveries close to the baseline.Lucas Pouille v Daniil Medvedev
Pouille-Medvedev is undoubtedly one of the first-round matchups to watch given their significant talents and success in 2018. Pouille triumphed in Montpellier before finishing runner-up in Marseille and Dubai. Medvedev followed up his 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualification by claiming his maiden ATP World Tour in Sydney. But Pouille has lost four of his past five matches and Medvedev has dropped four in a row, so both players will be at maximum focus in an attempt to get back on track.
There will be a clear contrast of styles as home favourite Pouille looks to thrill the French fans and gain a 3-0 lead in the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The No. 15 seed is a rhythmic offensive player, who will look to dictate from the baseline with his forehand and keep the match on his racquet. Ironically, Medvedev’s style is predicated on throwing off an opponent’s rhythm. The Russian typically strikes the ball later than most players, and generally hits relatively flat shots off both wings. Pouille won the pair’s most recent meeting last year in Shanghai 6-4, 6-2. But don’t be deceived by the score — Medvedev won just six fewer points in the match.

There's nothing like Paris in the springtime, they say. As these 10 epics—the 10 most memorable French Open matches of the Open Era—show, there's also nothing quite as stirring or sensation as tennis in Paris at this time of year.
By the time Navratilova and Evert walked onto a breezy Court Philippe Chatrier for the 1985 French Open final, the greatest of all tennis rivalries had almost ceased to be a rivalry at all. Dating back to 1981, Navratilova had won 20 of her previous 23 matches with Evert, including their last four Grand Slam finals. One year earlier, Martina had dealt Chris what appeared to be the coup de grâce when she rolled past her, 6-3, 6-1, at Roland Garros. Evert’s final refuge and fortress, the red clay of Paris where she had once gone unbeaten for eight years, had been breached. Some wondered how much longer Evert, who turned 30 at the end of 1984, could deal with playing second-fiddle to a woman she had once dominated.
Rather than a sign of terminal decline, though, the ’84 French final turned out to be a low point for Evert, a trough that would gradually work her way out of over the next 12 months. In the US Open final that fall, she had won a set from Navratilova before losing in three. At a Virginia Slims event in Delray Beach in the spring of 1985, Chris had snapped a 13-match losing streak to Martina. “Its about time you beat me,” Navratilova said with a smile at the net.
Since 1981, Navratilova had employed a dazzlingly athletic attacking game that had suffocated the baseline-hugging Evert. As precise as the American’s passing shots were, she couldn’t make enough of them to beat Martina. With prodding from her coach, Dennis Ralston, Evert began to move forward more in ’84 and ’85, and take the initiative from Navratilova when she could. In Paris, that more aggressive mindset had helped Evert hold off two teenage up-and-comers, Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini, in the fourth round and the semifinals.
And it helped her build an early lead against Navratilova in the final. Evert won the first set 6-3; while Chris was hitting crisply and dictating play, Martina, bothered by the wind, was struggling with her serve. Before the final, Evert's husband, John Lloyd, advised her to hit the ball high and keep it out of Navratilova's strike zone on her forehand side; it was an unorthodox but effective tactic. When Evert went up 4-2, 15-40 in the second set, one point from a double break, her lead had begun to look insurmountable. But the question still remained: Could she close out Navratilova? At the US Open the previous fall, Evert played brilliantly but couldn’t come up with the killer shot that would vault her to victory. It was one of the few times in her career when she hadn’t conquered her nerves; her losing streak to Navratilova had only exacerbated them. When it was over, Evert had been unable to look Martina in the eye.
“It was the most devastated I’ve ever been over a tennis match,” Evert told the journalist Johnette Howard. “All I wanted to do was get off the court.”
WATCH—Evert defeats Navratilova in the 1985 French Open final: 
How devastated would Evert have been had she lost her lead to Navratilova at Roland Garros? She almost found out. Seemingly out of it, Martina rallied to hold for 3-4, and reached set point at 5-4. From there, for the next 90 minutes, the match became one long seesaw ride, as each woman found her best when she was behind, only to falter with the lead.
Evert saved set point at 4-5 and served for the match at 6-5. Navratilova broke and won the tiebreaker 7-4. Evert jumped back out to a 3-1 lead in the third, only to see Navratilova level at 3-3. Evert served for the match a second time at 5-3, and was broken. Finally, at 5-5, Navratilova went up 0-40 on Evert’s serve. It was the first time all afternoon she had taken the lead, and she relaxed—“When I got ahead, I couldn’t help it,” she said. Instead of continuing the desperate, ruthless attack that had brought her back from the brink, Navratilova tried to drop shot Evert. It didn’t work. Now it was Evert’s turn to come back. She held from 0-40 to reach 6-5.
“The last two games were a blur of inspired shots,” Howard wrote, “each more pressure-packed and spine-tingling than the last.”
In the waning stages of its 65th edition, the rivalry to end all rivalries reached its summit. Each woman was quintessentially herself in these moments: While Navratilova emoted after with every point, Evert coolly rubbed her wristband across her face to wipe the sweat away. After missing a lob by inches on her first match point, Evert didn’t miss on the second. Pinned behind the baseline, with Navratilova bearing down on the net, Evert sprinted to her left, slid into the ball, and hammered a backhand bullet that sped past Navratilova and landed a few inches inside the sideline. The losing streak was over.
Evert and the French crowd threw their arms joyously into the air. But it was Navratilova’s reaction that was the most memorable, and the most fitting for this rivalry that turned into a friendship. After snapping her head around in time to see the ball land in, Martina exhaled, put her head down, and then ran to greet Evert with a smile and a hug.
“We brought out the best in each other,” she said.

There's nothing like Paris in the springtime, they say. As these 10 epics—the 10 most memorable French Open matches of the Open Era—show, there's also nothing quite as stirring or sensation as tennis in Paris at this time of year.
You only have to listen to the two men who played it to understand how high the stakes were for the 1984 men’s final at Roland Garros. Lendl has said that, looking at his French Open career in its entirety, which included three titles and a 53-12 record over 17 years, the only match he cares about now is his win over McEnroe in ’84. The same, unfortunately, can be said for Johnny Mac. No defeat over the course of his 15-year career would haunt the American as much as this one.
“It was the worst loss of my life,” McEnroe recalled. “Sometimes it still keeps me up at night.”
“To make a comparison to golf, I blew a 12-inch putt to win the Masters, and that’s hard to live with.”
For McEnroe, that disappointment begins with the fact that for two hours on that hot afternoon in Paris, he was playing the most masterful tennis of his life. At 25, he was at the peak of his considerable powers. He had started the 1984 season, his annus mirabilis, with 42 straight wins, and he would finish it 82-3, with titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. But perhaps the most telling measure of his excellence that season was how unbeatable he was on clay.
In his four previous trips to the French Open, McEnroe had failed to make it past the quarterfinals. No male player from the U.S. had won the title there since 1955, and, despite his obvious gifts, McEnroe seemed to be one more American attacker who didn’t have the patience for dirt. But in ’84, he was so superior to the rest of the men’s field that it didn’t matter what style he used; in his first six matches in Paris, he dropped one set. In the semifinals, he cruised past his longtime rival Jimmy Connors in straights.
After an hour of the final, it looked like he would do the same to Lendl. McEnroe arrived to loud cheers from the audience, and after serving-and-volleying his way to a two-set lead, he was trading knowing smiles with his friends in the stands—his doubles partner Peter Fleming had the champagne on ice. McEnroe had won his previous five matches over Lendl, a run that included two lopsided victories on clay that spring. The 24-year-old Czech was 0-4 in Grand Slam finals, and he looked to be well on his way to folding for a fifth straight time.
WATCH—Lendl defeats McEnroe in the 1982 French Open final: 
“I get a feeling from time to time,” McEnroe has said when trying to explain what happened next, “when it seems that things are going too well, that something bad has to happen.”
That “something bad” was typically a line call that went against him. This time, McEnroe couldn’t blame the officials; this time, it seemed, he went looking for the problem. In the third set, he found it, of all places, in a headset—an NBC cameraman had taken his off and left it on the sidelines, “squawking while I was trying to play.” Unable to ignore it. McEnroe stalked to the camera pit, picked up the headset, and dropped an f-bomb into it at the top of his lungs. “Just like that, my concentration was shot.”
Well, maybe not just like that. While Lendl would win the third set, McEnroe would regain his form long enough to break twice in the fourth and get to within two service holds of the title. By then, though, the clay, the heat, and even the Parisian crowd that had applauded him began to have their revenge—by the fifth set, their cheers for the American had turned to boos. Worse for McEnroe, he was half a step slower as he approached the net. It was just the opening that Lendl needed.
“I saw hope as soon as I broke him,” Lendl said. “I felt that once I could break him, I could do it again.”
Instead of seeing his passing shots cut off and volleyed for winners, the Czech began to find the holes he needed to rifle them for winners. Instead of dominating with his lefty serve, as he had early on, McEnroe couldn’t buy a first serve. The match would last for 51 games, the most in a French final in the Open era. By the end it was Lendl’s superior fitness, as much as McEnroe’s lapse in concentration, that made the difference. The final point said it all: Set up with a high forehand volley that he would put away 99 times out of 100, McEnroe hit it wide.
Lendl was overjoyed by the miss, but so exhausted by his effort that he could muster just one sentence in his winner’s speech: “I’m very happy that I won my first Grand Slam tournament here in Paris.”
McEnroe would never return to the French Open final; it would be left to Michael Chang five years later to beat Lend and end the U.S. men’s drought in Paris.
“It’s the only match in which I ever felt I was playing up to my capabilities and lost,” Johnny Mac would say.
But while the defeat would haunt McEnroe in later years, in the short term it served as inspiration. Determined not to take his foot off the pedal again when he had a lead, he would go on that year to beat Connors in the Wimbledon final and Lendl in the US Open final, each in one-sided straight-set matches.
For Lendl, the effects of his breakthrough at the French would be felt later. Knowing now that he could beat McEnroe when it counted, he would knock the American out of the No. 1 spot in 1985 and dominate the sport for the rest of the decade. The game’s biggest choker would transform himself into its most iron-willed champion. All Lendl needed was an opening.