The French Open is the third oldest grand slam tournament after the Wimbledon Championships and the US Open. It is considered to be one of the most physically demanding tennis events on the ATP Tour.
However, the clay surface at the French Open tends to make it less prone to big upsets compared to the other major tournaments but still, the event witnessed some of the major upsets, where the underdog managed to pull a shocker victory overcoming the odds.
Novak Djokovic vs Marco Cecchinato – French Open 2018
In one of the clay-court jewels, Marco Cecchinato got the better of the 2016 French Open champion after 3 hours and 27 minutes of long busting tennis, defeating the Serb 6-3, 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-6 (13-11) in the quarterfinals. The Italian had never won a grand slam match before the 2018 French Open and he went onto knock the then 12-time grand slam champion out of the tournament with the most astonishing performance.
Cecchinato saved four set points in the fourth set marathon tiebreaker of 21 minutes to secure a place in the semifinals, becoming the first Italian player to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 1978. He also became the lowest-ranked player to reach the last four at Roland Garros since world number 100 Andrei Medvedev in 1999.
Serena Williams vs Virginie Razzano – French Open 2012
The fifth seed Serena Williams had to capitulate to the then World No. 111 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in a dramatic first-round match at the 2012 French Open. It was the first time that Serena Williams lost the first round of a grand slam tournament in her career.
Serena Williams won a businesslike first set and was leading 5-1 in the second set tiebreaker but ultimately lost the match to Virginie Razzano as the Frenchwoman made a major turnaround to upset the 2002 French Open champion.
Gustavo Kuerten beating them all – French Open 1997
The unseeded Gustavo Kuerten, who had lost in the first round of the French Open 1996 and was unseeded at 1997 French Open, toppled some of the top players to clinch the title in Paris. Kuerten became the first unseeded player since Mats Wilander in 1982 and also the second-lowest ranked player to win a Grand Slam title. Furthermore, he is the first Brazilian to secure a major title.
Gustavo Kuerten deposed some of the former French Open champions in his course to the title. He defeated number 5 seeded Thomas Muster (1995), number 3 seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1996) and in the finals, he derailed the number 16 Sergi Bruguera (1993, 1994). His perfect run at the French Open 1997 saw him rise to the World No.15 in the ATP rankings.
Michael Chang vs Stefan Edberg – French Open 1989
Michael Chang won his maiden and only grand slam title at the 1989 French Open at the age of 17. Chang got the better of third-seeded Stefan Edberg to defeat him in a thrilling five-setter final 6–1, 3–6, 4–6, 6–4, 6–2. With this victory becoming the youngest men’s singles champion ever at a grand slam tournament. He also became the first American to clinch the French Open title since 1955 and the first American to win a grand slam title since 1984.
His victory over Edberg is equally remembered as his encounter with the top seed Ivan Lendl in the fourth round that had shocked the tennis world. Chang had fought hard to overcome severe leg cramps that nearly caused him to retire and win the match.
Rafael Nadal vs Robin Soderling – French Open 2009
Robin Soderling pulled one of the biggest upsets in the history of French Open as he defeated the ‘king of clay’ and the then 4-time defending champion in Paris, Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the 2009 French Open.
The 23-seed Robin Söderling of Sweden toppled the top seed Rafael Nadal in four sets 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(2) to make the impossible, possible. Soderling eventually reached the final but lost to Roger Federer for his only career win at the French Open. Robin Soderling became the first player to defeat Rafael Nadal on the Parisian clay, breaking his 31 matches winning streak. The other player to defeat Nadal at the French Open is Novak Djokovic.
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