BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese

BBC Sport
 You are in: Special Events: 2001: French Open  
Sport Front Page
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Other Sports
Special Events
Sports Talk
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
Around The UK: 
N Ireland

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather

  Sunday, 10 June, 2001, 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK
Falling for the French
Gustavo Kuerten collapses in joy
Kuerten captured the hearts of the French crowd
By BBC Sport Online's Alex Perry at Roland Garros

Inevitably, the overriding memories of Roland Garros in 2001 are of Gustavo Kuerten leaving his heart in Paris as he won his third French Open title, and Jennifer Capriati completing the second leg of the Grand Slam with an incredible win over Kim Clijsters.

Kuerten's see-saw run to the title saw him teeter on the brink against qualifier Michael Russell when he was forced to save a match point.

But the Brazilian's mastery was on show in the semi-final against Juan Carlo Ferrero in which he devastated the man expected to give him his closest challenge with near perfect tennis.

After the shocks of the first day when Venus Williams and home favourite Amelie Maursemo crashed out, the women's tournament was unremarkable until the final.

2001 French Open champion Jennifer Capriati
Capriati's delight is infectious
But Capriati's win over Clijsters, which included the longest deciding set in the history of women's tennis at Roland Garros, more than made up for that.

The joy of Capriati and Kuerten was mirrored by the disappointment of Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis, who once again missed out on the only Grand Slam title to elude them.

Britain can take some heart from the performances of Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, however, even if both fell in the first week.

The pair won tricky matches they might have lost in years gone by, and will be optimistic going in to Wimbledon.

Mention too must go to Andy Roddick, who showed the potential which one day may see him step into the shoes of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras as the standard bearer of American tennis.

Suffering from cramp, he pulled off an amazing fifth-set win over Michael Chang, with serves so powerful they almost knocked the 1989 winner clean off his feet.

Battle of the Belgians

Belgium will certainly remember this year's tournament with the success of Clijsters and Justine Henin, but few here will forget their fans.

They had plenty to shout about, and that they did, both in the all Belgian semi-final, and in Clijsters' brave challenge in the final.

Red, gold and black tricolors were everywhere, on flags, hats, scarves and faces, and the tournament would not have been the same without their noise and colour.

But, if anything, Guga's fans were louder, bedecked in the obligatory Brazil shirt and cheering every sublime touch.

The French fans, meanwhile, were not slow to show their appreciation - or their disapproval for that matter.

Hingis suffered when she threw a tantrum after losing the 1999 final to Steffi Graf, and despite the Swiss' best efforts, the crowds have still not quite forgiven her.

And Roland Garros itself and its beautiful red clay courts will also live long in the memory.

Every single time I come here it's special
Gustavo Kuerten
The likes of Hingis and Sampras may disagree, but there is something beguiling about the "terre battue".

In the sun the clay almost glows, and players leave the court spattered in red marks, almost like blood-stained fighters who have traded blows for 12 rounds.

The last word goes to Guga who spoke of his love for Roland Garros after his win over Alex Corretja.

"Every single time I come here it's special," said Kuerten. "It's a place I love to be."

I could not have put it better myself.

French Open site

Latest news

Perry in Paris

Clickable guides

French Open flashback






Links to more French Open stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more French Open stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales