Roland Garros ’17: Flashback Moments (with thanks to Randy Walker and Mikki Singh for their app, On This Day in Tennis History)
Call it a deck-clearing – not just one, but two upsets that rattled Roland Garros to the bones. The year was 1990, the first round of Roland Garros. Stefan Edberg was the number one seed and had been runner-up in 1989. Boris Becker was seeded second and at the time held the titles of Wimbledon and the US Open.
Edberg’s first round opponent was a 19-year-old Spaniard named Sergei Bruguera, then ranked #46 in the world. Though at heart an airtight, attrition-based player, in this match Bruguera played closer inside the baseline, pressing Edberg. With Edberg leading 4-3 in the first set, Bruguera struck lightning, winning 15 of the next 18 games to win the match 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.
As that match progressed, another teenager, Goran Ivanisevic, sat in the locker room and figured that if Bruguera could take down Edberg, why couldn’t he have a go at Becker? But while Bruguera’s game was a perfect for clay, Ivanisevic’s slash-and-burn style was hardly fit for the dirt. But on this day, Goran found gold, beating Becker 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2. “For him, every round is like a final,” said Becker. “But for me, it’s impossible to play my best in the first round.”
Though Bruguera would in time leave an even bigger mark on Roland Garros, winning the tournament in ’93 and ’94, Ivanisevic’s best days would come at Wimbledon, highlighted by a title run in ’01.
The surprising start of the tournament that year was bookended at the finish when veteran Andres Gomez, never a semifinalist at a major, upset Andre Agassi in the finals.
(with thanks to Randy Walker and Mikki Singh for their app, On This Day in Tennis History)
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