A look at the best players never to win the French Open

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Laurie, May 24, 2012.

  1. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London
    #1
  2. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I almost would like to see two seperate lists. One of the best overall players not to win Roland Garros and one of the best clay courters not to win Roland Garros, as the lists would be totally different. Thanks for your work though.
     
    #2
  3. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    4,789
    Jimmy Connors? Got to the semi final every year and beat Borg on green clay at the USO.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
    #3
  4. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,114
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    All I see on the link is a black screen.

    Anyway, my choices are, in no particular order:

    Guillermo Coria
    Andrei Medvedev
    Alex Corretja
    Alberto Berasategui
    Marcelo Rios
    Felix Mantilla
    Alberto Mancini
    Raul Ramirez
    Jose-Luis Clerc
    Vitas Gerulaitis
    Eddie Dibbs
    Victor Pecci
    Harold Solomon
    Henri Leconte
    Pancho Gonzales
    Zeljko Franulovic
    Pete Sampras
    Jimmy Connors
    John McEnroe
    Boris Becker
    Stefan Edberg
    Arthur Ashe
    John Newcombe
    Manuel Orantes
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2012
    #4
  5. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,622
    "In fact, Connors was banned from being able to participate in the French Open from 1974 to 1978 because he signed up to play World Team Tennis which the ATP and ITF did not recognise,"

    He was banned in '74, but that was the only season he played WTT (until the 90s). From '75 to '78 he missed the French, but it was his own choice -- partly motivated, perhaps, by memories of the bitter dispute in '74.

    Orantes not winning the French is one that always stands out.
     
    #5
  6. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    516
    There are many great players who didn't win the French. Just going back to the late 60's onwards, Newcombe, Smith, Ashe, Orantes, Connors, McEnroe. Becker, Edberg, Sampras to name some of the very top players of the Open era.
    Orantes had a 2 sets to love lead over an 18 year old Borg in 1974 and let it slip. McEnroe should have won the French in 1984 from a similar position, toying with Lendl even on clay that season. I think John was thinking it was too easy. That was McEnroe's hardest defeat. Edberg could have won in 89, but was denied by a 17 year old Michael Chang with his only GS win.
    I'm glad Federer got the French Open monkey off his back, he was too good a player everywhere else and deserves a French title on his record.
    Connors didn't play in 1974-78, really his very peak years. We'll never know if he would have won a Roland Garros crown or not. Personally, I think he would have a chance from 74-76, but also there were many players who could have denied him, not just Borg. The likes of Vilas, Nastase, Panatta, Solomon, Ramirez and Orantes particularly.
     
    #6
  7. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    Messages:
    11,461
    Location:
    Ometepe, Pink Granite, Queyras, Kerguelen (...)
    nice article, but edberg's clay titles are:
    - gstaad (1986)
    - hamburg (1992)
    - madrid (1993)
    too bad he didn't win RG... snif ! :|
     
    #7
  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Specially since he was 2 sets up ( 6-7,2.6) against Borg in 74...and blew it away ( 6-0,6-1,6-1).The greatest turndown that I can remember and the greatest non expected winner.

    It is amazing how Orantes learned the lesson, and did to Vilas ( in 75 USO sf) and Fibak ( in 76 Masters F) what Borg had done to him...just amazing.
     
    #8
  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Orantes fared much worse than Mc Enroe.Lendl was already nº 2 in the world in 84 and a better clay courter than Mac, while Borg , in 1974,was just an 18 yrs old up and coming guy, with much less experience than Orantes, whom he still had to beat by then.
     
    #9
  10. TennisLovaLova

    TennisLovaLova Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    3,069
    Rios obviously
    And Hicham Arazi
     
    #10
  11. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London
    Thanks for that KRosero
     
    #11
  12. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London
    I didn't mention Rios as a former number 1 player but I can't remember his best result at Roland Garros, I don't remember him making an impression, hardcourts seemed to be his thing unless I'm mistaken.
     
    #12
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Rios was pretty good on clay, having won Rome and reached, if I recall well, the MC final.That was in 1997, possibly his best year, along 1998.

    He had a solid and nice touch, I saw him live on clay, but sometimes he went for the flashy shot and was not as consistent as it takes on clay courts.
     
    #13
  14. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,114
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Rios won Monte Carlo in 1997, won Rome in 1998 and won Hamburg in 1999.
     
    #14
  15. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    21,232
    Robin Soderling

    He lost to Nadal and Fed in the 2009/2010 finals. At the same time, he also beat Nadal/Fed at the FO. Give him a chance to play in the past generation, he could win a FO.
     
    #15
  16. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    With so many clay titles and good results in clay Masters 1000 events he must be first on the list
     
    #16
  17. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    21,232
    You have never saw him played in 2009/2010 FO.
     
    #17
  18. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    I did, but that's not enough cause outside fast Paris clay from that years he achieved nothing
     
    #18
  19. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    By the logic of including Soderling one might as well include Pete Sampras. Sampras has beaten Bruguera, Courier, Muster, at the French so 3 huge wins vs only 2 for Soderling. Of course Sampras didnt make any French finals as back then there were about 12 really good clay courters, not only 2 or 3, so just having a big win didnt guarantee you making the final like it does today. Sampras also won Rome, Soderling has never won an event close to that on clay.

    Then again both Sampras and Soderling are more worthy choices than freaking Enqvist, LOL!
     
    #19
  20. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    Messages:
    11,461
    Location:
    Ometepe, Pink Granite, Queyras, Kerguelen (...)
    i thought the implicit rule was to mention players who already retired...
    if we include active players, then djokovic and soderling have to be in the list for their RG records.
     
    #20
  21. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London
    In my earlier post, I meant to say I DID mention Rios in the article, I must have been typing in a hurry!
     
    #21
  22. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London
    My article is about the best players never to win the French. At the end of the article, I mentioned guys like Hewitt, Safin, Rios, Stich, Rafter. These guys were a factor on all other surfaces and majors. Rios got to the final of the Aussie Open on rebound ace. Soderling has not shown he is a factor at any other major. Needless to say I cannot envisage including him in an article like this.
     
    #22
  23. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London
    Indeed, no need to include Djokovic as he is too young and at this stage has very chance to win the French in the next few seasons.
     
    #23
  24. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    My theory is Mac ran out of gas because: (1) he wasn't in great shape, and (2) he was using.
     
    #24
  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Corretja also lost twice at RG...

    let´s take also Franulovic, once a beaten R/U and once a semifinalist.
     
    #25
  26. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    While Mac just ran out of gas in the third s et of the 1984 final, it still surprises me he was able to beat so handily Lendl, very few weeks before, at the Forest Hills Tournament of Champions.In fact, he may have played his best ever clay court match that day...
     
    #26
  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,622
    It was an extreme turnaround, but Borg had just won the Italian so he really wasn't an unexpected champion. He was seeded 3rd, Orantes 14th.

    Actually the Borg-Orantes h2h was 3-3, coming into the French. Borg had taken their most recent meetings, including one in Rome in '74.

    Precisely because he didn't have to win 3 sets at Forest Hills.
     
    #27
  28. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    21,232
    I didn't use Soderling to compare the players in your article, but to Mustard's list which I disagree with him.
     
    #28
  29. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    London
    Thanks for the clarification.
     
    #29
  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    In terms of experience, Borg had reached the WCT finals and won the Rome event a week or so before coming into RG.But Orantes had already played a Davis Cup, a Wimbledon and a Roland Garros semi and was 7 years older than Borg.The press gave Orantes as a favourite, even if Borg had recently defeated him on red clay.I fully remember that match at Roland Garros.Once he had done that great feat, it was just a question of time before 18 yrs old Bjorn was going to be number 1.In 1976, he had the best record and deserved being world´s nº1.
     
    #30
  31. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    516
    McEnroe's defeat at Roland Garros 84 was his hardest to take though, John always says that. His best and only chance to win the French as it turned out. Orantes' loss to Borg will have been a big blow to Manuel too.
     
    #31
  32. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    516
    Kiki's back to 1976 again. Leave it go, man! :)
     
    #32
  33. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Due to Santana ( and also Gimeno) success in recent years, Orantes was considered a must win by many fans and press, and the pressure was really big.That explains why he colapsed when he had almost won the final.Otherwise, in 75, nobody would expect him win Forest Hills and he freed himself after that miraculous recovery against Vilas.Felt no pressure at all, as he was the unexpected finalist and the underdog against mighty Jimmy Connors.
     
    #33
  34. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Many people claim that Connors positive H2H against Borg, enhanced by his US Open win against the swede, puts him as nº 1 in 1976.But h2h is second to record, and Borg won 2 of the top 5 events of the year (Dallas and Wimbledon) and also reached another final (Forest Hills), which Connors did not.Back in 76, AO was not on line with the 2 season end championships and the 3 GS (as a matter of fact, only Newcombe and Rosewall attended the event as memberos of the top 10 and it was surprisingly won by unknown aususie Mark Edmondson who defeated both)
     
    #34
  35. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,114
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    May I ask why you disagree?

    Connors was the best player of 1976, kiki. Borg needed to win the US Open and failed.
     
    #35
  36. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Borg was nº 1 in 76 ( just as Vilas in 77) by virtue of his substantially better record.Even if Connors won most of the time their matches ( as Borg did against Vilas) it is secondary.Records clearly put Borg two notches above Jimmy in 1976.

    I don´t care what the ATP says, I think computers do not necessarily have common sense:)
     
    #36
  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    IMo, the trned of Connors nº 1 in 76 is due to some desperate attempt to give Connors more than 2 diminant years (74 and 82) where he was the undisputed king of tennis.I can understand from a technical point of view that some fans can rank him above Borg because of his dominant H2H and great Forest Hills win in their final.But records, if hionestly looked at, show Borg was nº 1 in 1976, much like Ashe in 75 ( and Borg was even better since he also reached a third major final
    which Ashe didn´t)
     
    #37
  38. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,114
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Connors won 12 titles, including the US Open, and others like Wembley, WCT Philadelphia and WCT Denver. Borg won 6 titles, including Wimbledon and WCT Dallas. Connors had a win-loss record of 91-8 and Borg had a win-loss record of 57-12. Connors won all 3 of their matches in 1976 (the WCT Philadelphia final, the Palm Springs semi final and the US Open final).

    In 1977, Vilas had a win-loss record that was something like 132-13 or 145-14, and won 16 tournaments (maybe more), including the French Open and US Open, and a record win streak of 46 wins in a row that was controversially ended. Borg and Connors in 1977 were nowhere near this, even if Borg beat Vilas whenever they met that year.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2012
    #38
  39. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Messages:
    8,318
    Nadal was on his last knees.
     
    #39
  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    So, you still give Connors the edge for 76?
     
    #40
  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,114
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Of course.
     
    #41
  42. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Borg beat Tanner in straight sets at Wimbledon, one day after Connors was straight setted by Tanner.Logic indicates that Borh¡g would have beaten Connors, which would have closed the debate about who is nº 1 in 76.
     
    #42
  43. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,622
    Orantes actually already had done that to Vilas earlier in the tournament (74RG) -- came back from two sets down, in the fourth round.

    Those two sets he lost to Vilas happened to be the only sets Orantes lost before the final.

    Connors also won 2 of the top 5 events (USO and Philadelphia). He shut Borg out in critical matches; he won twice as many official tournaments as Borg; and had fewer losses than Borg (see Mustard's post for the exact details).

    Borg arguably had a better year in '76 than Ashe did in '75, but that does not mean that Borg should be made #1 in '76. I see this argument all the time and frankly I don't understand it. Every year is different; and you can only be #1 over the records of your rivals. Ashe in '75 was not competing against a record like Connors had in '76. Ashe was competing against the Connors of '75, who won no Slams and no big titles (partly because he was still playing the Riordan tour). Connors in '75 won fewer overall titles, and titles of poorer quality, than what he won in '76.

    The two years are very different. Borg's competition in '76 was much better than what Arthur faced in '75.

    And critically, Ashe defeated his main rival in '75. Borg lost to his main rival in every match they played and in the final of a major.

    This is false, because a majority of experts at the time (Americans, British and French) voted for Connors as #1 of the year.
     
    #43
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,411
    For what it's worth, I saw both Borg and Connors numerous times that year on television and in person and I felt Connors was a better player. Now that doesn't mean he had the better year but I also felt that at the time also.

    I felt Borg surpassed Connors in overall tennis strength in 1977.
     
    #44
  45. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,622
    A little more on Borg-Orantes in '74.

    The Age:

    “Before the match I felt very tired,” Borg said afterwards. “Then I was losing two sets to love and it looked bad. But in the third set Manuel didn’t seem to try and I felt I had him after that.”​

    UPI:

    Borg, habitually slow to get warmed up and tired after months of continual competition, could not match Orantes’ attack at the start of their match.

    The 25-year-old Spanish number one was fresh and made few errors. Borg sometimes looked exhausted at the start of the three hour, 10 minute match.

    But, after the first two sets, Borg began hammering his serve and slamming his tricky topspin forehand.

    “After winning the first two sets, he was tired and I don’t think Orantes tried in the third,” Borg said afterward. “In the fourth set, I thought I must win the first two games to get back into the match and I did it.”​

    It was a very humid day, the kind that Maskell said sapped everyone’s energy.

    Orantes was taking his time, and Borg was so upset that, besides asking the umpire to push Orantes along, he stayed in his chair and made Orantes wait at the start of the third set.
     
    #45
  46. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Messages:
    1,693
    It's a shame that Corretja never won the French Open. He had a very classy backhand and style of play, and in my opinion he was a better player than his compatriots Moya and Costa who were both able to win the title.

    He was the runner-up in Paris twice, in 1998 to Moya and in 2001 to Kuerten, and lost in the semis to his good friend Costa in 2002 (I think a week after their match he was Costa's best man at his wedding).

    1999 looked to be another great opportunity for him, but he was sick from an allergic reaction and lost to Meligeni in his QF. It's funny to think that the three best players in the world on clay and title favourites, Kuerten, Rios and Corretja all lost in the quarters that year.

    It's astonishing that Rios won all three of the masters series events on clay, but never reached the semi-finals in Paris. In 1999 he lost in the quarters to Hrbaty who was a terrible match-up for him and won all 3 of their matches. In 1998 he lost his QF Moya. Rios actually lead their h2h 5-2, winning all 5 of their non-slam matches while Moya's 2 wins both came at the slams.

    Rios's 1997 Monte-Carlo title run was hugely impressive when he beat Costa and Moya along the way before putting on a masterclass to demolish Corretja in the final. Rios and Corretja had a nice clay court rivalry with each other in the mid 90s.
     
    #46
  47. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Phily, as great an indoor tourney as it was, can´t compare in prestige with WCT Finals.In fact, Philadelphia led to Dallas ( it was the WCT with more points ) but not the other way round.

    The reason I can´t understand is why Connors never played a full WCT tour...till 77, when players that competed in the WCT tour didn´t play any other until it was over.

    in 76, Borg won the biggest event (Wimbledon) and the fourth (Dallas) being also a finalist in the second (USO).Connors won the second biggest, but fared poorly at Wimbly, and played no WCT Finals, no Roland Garros and no Masters ( which was the fifth best event in that year).

    In 1982 Mc Enroe beat Connors at Philadelphia and San Francisco by a much wider margin than Connors beat him at Queen´s and Wimbledon.Yet, nobody would put Mac above Connors that year.
     
    #47
  48. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Orantes and Borg played some very fine clay court matches along their careers against each other.I think, as late as 1981, when Manolo was 32, he still took a set off Borg at the Ginebra indoor event.

    They had also a pretty good rivalry in the Davis Cup, which both played very seriously.Borg was so good that even surrounded by mere journeymen, he took Sweden to the title in 1975, slamming the Czech team led by Jan Kodes in the final.
     
    #48
  49. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Corretja´s best win was the 1998 Masters Championship, beating countryman Moya over 5 long and exhausting sets and coming back from behind to take the event.
     
    #49
  50. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    516
    The reason nobody would put Mac above Connors in 1982 is because Connors won the Wimbledon-US Open double. That's obvious. Lendl has a better case than Mac for 1982.

    Regarding 1976, if we're talking hypothetical match ups, it's likely Borg would have beaten Jimmy if they had played at Wimbledon that year the form Bjorn was in, but it's also likely Jimmy would have beaten Borg in Dallas 76 considering Jimmy's h2h against Bjorn and coming off a couple of wins over Borg that season already. Borg went to Paris that year and was well beaten by Panatta. Connors had a much superior win-loss record for 76 compared to Borg and won double the titles Bjorn did. Most intelligent watchers of the game had Jimmy as no.1 for 1976, that's the truth of it.
     
    #50

Share This Page