Gaston Gaudio showed the courage of a true champion
- Henman made the mistake of rallying more from the baseline vs Coria
Serve & Volley
A French newspaper called the red clay at Roland Garros the ‘surface of truth’. The late Lance Tuigay, the doyen of tennis scribes, referred to its testing qualities as “the slow, searching fires”. Indeed, it is a brutally slow surface with no place to hide your weakness. As in the past, honour cannot be salvaged with a single shot at ten paces in the morning mist at the Bois. The route to the title is tortuous and long.
It was a fascinating fortnight full of suspense and high drama. As many as eight matches were won by competitors who were match-point down. Fairytales, shattered dreams, comedy were entwined in the unpredictable twists and turns of fate. The unlikely champion was unseeded Argentine Gaston Gaudio, 25 years of age and ranked 44th in the world. Earlier in the year, he had considered giving up the game!
The unseeded Gaston Gaudio was an unlikely champion
Down two match-points in the final against Coria, when the title was slipping through his fingers, Gaudio stood his ground, planted his solid legs firmly on the clay and went for his shots with the courage of a true champion.
For Coria, just one point short of glory, it was a traumatic tragedy. Can you imagine winning 48 out of 50 matches on clay and losing the most important one after holding two match-points! Seven best-of-five set matches on the red clay found Coria just a fraction short physically. Leading two sets to love against Gaudio, Coria was comfortably sailing through the final when Gaudio, egged on by the crowd clamouring for a good contest, managed to win the third set.
At one game all in the fourth set, Coria was immobilised by cramps in both legs. After medical attention, he made no effort in the fourth set waiting for the cream rubbed on his legs to have effect. Alas, Coria’s spirited and brave comeback in the fifth failed by a whisker.
To read the rest of the French Open review.