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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Kuerten wins third French title
Kuerten celebrates victory at the French Open final
Kuerten takes his place among the legends of Paris clay
Gustavo Kuerten (Bra, 1) beats Alex Corretja (Spa, 13) 6-7 7-5 6-2 6-0

Gustavo Kuerten stormed to a third French Open title on Sunday, beating Spain's Alex Corretja in four sets.

The Brazilian top seed, champion here in 1997 and 2000, becomes only the sixth player to complete a hat-trick of Roland Garros singles titles.

He wasted three match points as Corretja pulled off a string of magnificent returns at 5-0 40-0 down but finally won on his fourth when Corretja hit a return wide.

Corretja in action during the French Open final
Valiant Corretja loses his second French final
Kuerten is the first champion to defend his title since Sergi Bruguera in 1994.

But Corretja, who also lost the 1998 French Open final to compatriot Carlos Moya, started the brighter on a grey, blustery day in Paris.

He deservedly edged the opening set 7-6 - the first he had taken from Kuerten in their last four matches - by winning the tie-break 7-3.

And then started the second set perfectly, breaking Guga immediately as the Brazilian struggled to time the ball in the blustery wind.

But Kuerten, who was always going to have more weapons on form, broke back three games later and again in the 12th game of the set to square the match.

The wind subsided, the sun came out and with it Kuerten's timing improved.


I really enjoyed playing here all tournament and I want to thank Alex - he is a great competitor and a great person
Gustavo Kuerten
He wrapped up the third set 6-2 in just 36 minutes before romping through the fourth for the victory.

By the end he was playing sublime tennis, but the last set did not tell the whole tale of a final in which Corretja played a brave part.

And Kuerten was quick to pay tribute to his opponent, addressing an enthusiatic crowd afterwards.

"The Centre Court is incredible it is an unbelievable atmosphere," he said.

"I really enjoyed playing here all tournament and I want to thank Alex - he is a great competitor and a great person."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC tennis correspondent Iain Carter - five live
"Kuerten overcame an uncertain start"
French open champion Gustavo Kuerten- five live
"I needed a good comeback"
French Open runner-up Alex Corretja- radio five
"I thought I still had a good chance after the third set"
Links to more French Open stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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