What a difference a year makes. Twelve months earlier, as he arrived at the 1991 French Open, Jim Courier had been ranked #9 in the world and never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal. But he’d gone on to take Roland Garros by a storm, Courier’s breakthrough title run capped by a five-set upset win over Andre Agassi.
It was all very different by 1992. Courier had reached a US Open final, finished ’91 ranked two in the world, won the ’92 Australian Open and reached the number one spot in February ’92.
The 1992 French Open was Courier’s for the taking – his physical fitness and mental toughness at the time giving him a clay court aura very similar to those possessed by such Roland Garros icons as Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal. Reaching the semis with the loss of a single set, Courier faced Agassi. This was the fourth straight year these two former Bollettieri Academy roommates had met at Roland Garros, Courier’s win in the ’91 final giving him a 2-1 edge. At the 33-minute mark, the match deadlocked at 3-all in the first set, Courier took charge, winning 15 of the next 19 games – 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
In the finals, played on June 7, 1992, he faced a surprising opponent, a slashing, dangerous lefthander, Petr Korda. The first set was tight, but once Courier squeaked it out, 7-5, he was off to the races, handily winning the next two, 6-2, 6-1.
Further evidence for Courier’s comfort on clay came during the post-match awards ceremony, when he gave part of his victory speech in French. As title defenses go, two words summed it up: tres bien.
(with thanks to Randy Walker and Mikki Singh for their app, On This Day in Tennis History)
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