2016: Djokovic makes history, Muguruza is just getting started.
Novak Djokovic (SRB) def Andy Murray (GBR) 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4
Garbine Muguruza (ESP) def Serena Williams (USA) 7-5 6-3
2015 : Wawrinka on a higher plane, Serena toughs it out
Once he (finally) managed to see off a virtually unrecognisable Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals (7-5, 6-3, 6-1), the road seemed wide open for Novak Djokovic to (finally) triumph at Roland-Garros, the one Grand Slam he had yet to win. And while Stan Wawrinka had been giving the Big four something to think about ever since bagging the Australian Open a year earlier, no-one ever dreamt that the Swiss would pull off "the match of (his) life", to quote the man himself, and deprive the Serb once more of this seemingly unattainable title. Centre Court was transfixed and won over as Wawrinka dropped the first set then proceeded to dominate (4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4). It was the second victory for a Swiss at Roland-Garros after Roger Federer in 2009, and the first Paris victory for someone over 30 since Andres Gomez in 1990. As was the case in 2013, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the semi-finals with impressive victories over Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori. He ended up going down in four sets to Wawrinka (6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4) on a day of stifling heat, but the Frenchman was the one who posed the Swiss the most problems at any point in the fortnight.
While the end result of the women’s tournament was a logical triumph for undisputed world No.1 Serena Williams, five of her seven matches saw her taken to a third set – a record for an eventual winner of the competition. In the third round, she was 6-3, 4-2 down to Victoria Azarenka. In the Round of 16, Sloane Stephens came within three points of knocking her out (6-1, 5-4, 0-15). In the semis, Swiss surprise package Timea Bacsinszky was 6-4, 3-1 ahead, and in the final, Lucie Safarova (who had knocked out defending champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round) was 2-0 up in the decider. But Serena is nothing if not the queen of the comeback, and nothing would stop her from lifting the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen for the third time and taking home her 20th major at the age of 33 years and 8 months, making her the oldest women’s singles winner in Paris in the process.
Stan Wawrinka (CH) def. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Serena Williams (USA) def. Lucie Safarova (CZE), 6-3, 6-7, 6-2
2014 : Nadal to the power of nine
Novak Djokovic sent out a real signal when he beat Rafael Nadal in Rome a week before the beginning of the tournament. Did that make him the favourite? Logic dictated that the No.1-seeded Spaniard and No.2-seeded Serb would meet in the final for a remake of their 2012 showdown. They did, and this time it was Djokovic who got off to the better start. But for the sixth time in as many meetings at the Porte d’Auteuil, the King of Clay had the final say, with Rafa managing to finish it off before it went to a fifth set that may well have been beyond him physically (3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4). This ninth Paris title put Nadal level with Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slams, and just three behind Roger Federer’s 17. Of the French contingent, Gaël Monfils shone in reaching the quarter-finals where he gave best to Andy Murray, but only after five sets. The main thing for the home crowd to shout about however was the men’s doubles victory for Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger Vasselin, the first French pair to win at the Porte d’Auteuil since Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte in 1984.
In the women’s, shockwaves were sent through the tournament right from the start with defeats for the top three seeds (the American Serena Williams, China’s Li Na and Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska) in the first week. Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep were the only members of the top 8 by the quarter-finals, and they gave us an exciting final. Halep, who won the junior tournament in 2008, was the first Romanian finalist in Paris since Virginia Ruzici in 1978! Sharapova meanwhile had had plenty of trouble just making it through the second week, with Australia’s Sam Stosur, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza and Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard all taking the first set off her. In the end, it took two minutes over three hours for the Russian to overcome Halep 6-4, 6-7, 6-4, the underdog showing that she was certainly not overawed by the occasion. The final ended up just two minutes shorter than the longest in the history of the tournament, when Steffi Graf defeated Arantxa Sanchez in 1996.
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4
Maria Sharapova (RUS) def. Simona Halep (ROU) 6-4, 6-7, 6-4
2013 : Rafa and Serena – a class above the rest
An eighth title for Rafael Nadal in Paris, putting himself two clear of Björn Borg, did not look to be on the cards at the beginning of the fortnight. Both Daniel Brands and Martin Klizan took the opening set off him in the first two rounds, and the idea of the Majorcan crashing out no longer seemed that far-fetched, particularly when Brands led 3-0 in the second-set tiebreak. But as is often the case, the Matador from Manacor got into his rhythm as the tournament wore on, and as is often the case, he won his duel with Novak Djokovic, who nevertheless forced him to a fifth set for only the second time ever in Paris. The sun was beating down on their semi-final, and it looked at one point as if the Serb would finally be capable of seeing off his rival, going a break up in the fifth set. But at 4-3, Djokovic committed a schoolboy error in touching the net when an easy volley was on the end of his racquet, allowing Nadal to break back on the next point and go on to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 in 4 hours 37 minutes. David Ferrer put up less of a fight two days later, and Nadal cruised to yet another title (6-3, 6-2, 6-3). At the age of 31, the unstinting Spanish No.2 was in his first final at a major, having dashed the hopes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who had previously brushed aside Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, to become the first Frenchman to reach the final four since Gaël Monfils in 2008.
31 is also the age at which Serena Williams took back the mantle of No.1 in the world. 11 years after her sole victory in Paris, the American took the Roland-Garros title for the second time, defeating defending champion Maria Sharapova of Russia in the final. The match was less of a contest than expected, with Serena winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, to become the second-oldest player to win at the Porte d’Auteuil. The 11 years between her first title and her second were also a record.
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. David Ferrer (ESP), 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Serena Williams (USA) def. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 6-4, 6-4
2012 : Nadal overtakes Borg on the third Monday…
Rafael Nadal’s two victories over Novak Djokovic at Monte-Carlo and Rome changed nothing as far as the majority of pundits were concerned: the Serb, who held the three other Grand Slam titles, was once again the favourite! After two big scares – the first against Andreas Seppi who bagged the opening two sets of their Round of 16 match, the second against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who had no fewer than four match points in the following round – the Djoker lived up to his billing and made the final for the first time. Alas, he was dominated from the off by the Spaniard, as was the case in 2006, 2007 and 2008, in a match that would stretch over two days. Finding himself 6-4, 6-3, 2-0 adrift, the Serb made the most of the drizzle which dampened his opponent’s topspin. Indeed, he rattled off eight games in a row, taking the third set and breaking to open the fourth… The rain then became heavier, and a halt had to be called on proceedings. The final got under way again on the Monday, and under "normal" playing conditions, Nadal took command once again, running out a 7-5 winner in the fourth set and having his name engraved on the trophy for a seventh time, overtaking the once seemingly untouchable record of the legendary Björn Borg!
In the women’s draw, Maria Sharapova became the tenth player in history to complete the Grand Slam of winning all four majors. Making the most of the first-week defeats of Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska and American Serena Williams (who lost in the opening round to Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano in the most emotional match of the fortnight), the Siberian cruised into the final where she dispatched Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2. The Italian had caused quite a few upsets along the way to the final Saturday, defeating Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Angelique Kerber and Samantha Stosur! The win saw Sharapova back up to No.1 in the world, while Errani at least had the consolation of winning the women’s doubles title.
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Novak Djokovic (SRB), 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5
Maria Sharapova (RUS) def. Sara Errani (ITA), 6-3, 6-2
2011: Dawn of a new era
Spain's Rafael Nadal won his sixth Roland Garros title, joining Bjorn Borg as the most successful player in the history of the French Open. After coming through a real scare against big-serving American John Isner in the opening round (6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4), Rafa then breezed into the final without dropping another set. And on the last Sunday of the tournament, he got the better of Roger Federer for the fifth time here on the Paris clay. It was by far and away their closest contest here at the French however, with the Swiss having chances in all four sets only to come up just short (7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1). Nadal's triumph was the first time that a world No.1 had won the French Open since Gustavo Kuerten back in 2001.
The match of the tournament came a few days earlier in the semi-finals however, when Federer defeated soon-to-be world No.1 Novak Djokovic in one of the greatest ties in the history of the tournament, finally getting the better of the Serb as evening fell over Paris (7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6).
The women's draw saw the first ever Grand Slam success for a player from China and all the accompanying media hype as 47 million TV viewers witnessed Li Na defeat Francesca Schiavone! 2011 Australian Open finalist Li dropped a set in the first round and then in the Round of 16 as she struggled to overcome Petra Kvitova (2-6, 6-1, 6-3), who would go on to win Wimbledon a few weeks later. In the final however she was in total control against the defending champion Schiavone, who came up just short in her quest for back-to-back Roland Garros wins.
Li Na (CHI) def. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 6-4, 7-6
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Roger Federer (SUI) 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1
2010: Nadal takes charge again
A year after his defeat to Robin Soderling, Spain's Rafael Nadal exacted revenge on his conqueror in the French Open final. Having come into the tournament unbeaten on clay with wins at Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid, the Majorcan swept into the final without losing a set and then brushed aside Soderling 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 as the Swede lost his second Roland Garros final in a row. In the quarter-finals, Soderling had put an end to Roger Federer's incredible run of 23 Grand Slam semi-finals in a row, as well as depriving the Swiss of another record – that of consecutive weeks at No.1. Federer had to relinquish the position with 285 weeks at the top to his name, just seven days short of the record held by USA's Pete Sampras.
In the women's tournament, Francesca Schiavone shook up the established hierarchy and won her maiden Slam at the age of 30. The Italian had never gone beyond the quarters at a major but once she got a sniff of glory in Paris, there was no stopping her. After dropping a set in the first round, she went from strength to strength all the way to the final. Sam Stosur had a similarly surprising and uplifting run, defeating Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic in consecutive matches. When it came to the title decider, the Aussie suffered a little from nerves however, while Schiavone on the other hand was in a state of grace. Italy at last had a new Grand Slam champion, for the first time since Adriano Panatta – also at Roland Garros – back in 1976.
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) def. Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-2, 7-6
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Robin Soderling (SWE) 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
2009: Federer writes his name in the annals
Finally! Having come within touching distance of the title on no fewer than three occasions, Roger Federer at last got the monkey off his back and added the French Open to his trophy cabinet. The Swiss legend defeated Robin Soderling in the final, securing his 14th major and becoming just the sixth play to complete the fabled Grand Slam. History was not easy in the making, however. Federer dropped six sets along the way, and was just five points from defeat in the round of 16 against Tommy Haas (6-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2). Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro also came within a whisker of eliminating Federer in the semis (3-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4), but the Swiss pulled out all the stops against Soderling in the final.
After playing out match point, Federer fell to his knees on Philippe Chatrier court, tears welling in his eyes, before Andre Agassi – who had experienced the exact same emotions ten years earlier – presented him with the Coupe des Mousquetaires. The other big news of the tournament came when Rafael Nadal lost in the fourth round, bludgeoned by Soderling's hammer blows (6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6) as he slipped to his first ever defeat at Roland Garros in his fourth tournament.
Five years after winning her maiden Slam at the US Open, Svetlana Kuznetsova finally made good on her promise to secure another major. The 24-year-old Russian was an immensely talented player but seemingly lacking in what it takes to eke out a gritty win when the going gets tough. In Paris however she did precisely that, outlasting Serena Williams and Samantha Stosur in two nail-biters before turning the tables on fellow Russian Dinara Safina in the final as the world No.1 crumbled under the pressure.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) def. Dinara Safina (RUS) 6-4, 6-2
Roger Federer (SUI) def. Robin Soderling (SWE), 6-1, 7-6, 6-4
2008: Nadal's feat of clay
Before, there was Borg. Then came Nadal. Thirty years on, Rafael Nadal took the former king of clay's records and decided to emulate them. Not content with winning a fourth consecutive French Open title, equalling one of the Swede's records, Nadal dropped a mere 41 games en route to the championship, just nine more than the 32 which Borg lost in 1978! Nadal showed his opponents no mercy, particularly in the final when he thrashed world No.1 Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
This was the 12th time that a Spaniard had triumphed at Roland Garros in the men's singles, pulling them clear of USA and Australia and making them the most successful country of all time at the French Open. There was also a Frenchman in the semis for the first time since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001, thanks to Gael Monfils who defeated No.5 seed David Ferrer in the quarter-final.
The women's draw was conspicuous for one player's absence. Having won four of the previous five titles, Justine Henin suddenly called time on her career a few short weeks before she was scheduled to return to Paris. Ana Ivanovic stepped neatly into the breach, dropping just one set throughout the fortnight and defeating Russia's Dinara Safina – Marat Safin's younger sister – in the final. The win saw Ivanovic top the WTA rankings at the age of 20, and it seemed at the time that she had the world at her feet…
Ana Ivanovic (SER) def. Dinara Safina (RUS) 6-4, 6-3
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Roger Federer (SUI) 6-1, 6-3, 6-0
2007: Hat-trick for Nadal and Henin
Third French Open, third title for Rafael Nadal, which saw him equal the achievements of Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Gustavo Kuerten (the latter on hand to present the Coupe des Mousquetaires after the final). The Majorcan's third Roland Garros title was his easiest to date and saw him make it through to the final without dropping so much as a set. He even saw off the challenge of Novak Djokovic, sweeping aside the Serbian rising star 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 in the semi-finals. Once again, it was world No.1 Roger Federer who stood between Nadal and the title, with the Swiss again looking to win all four Slams in a row. The final was a tight affair but Federer was left to rue his lack of success on break points, converting just one of the 17 which came his way. And as in 2006, he fell in four sets.
Justine Henin also won her third consecutive French Open title and her fourth in total, and for the second year in a row, she did so without losing a single set and took her amazing run to 34 consecutive sets won! The final was rather one-sided, with Ana Ivanovic swept aside 6-1, 6-2. The 19-year-old Serb had an impressive campaign nevertheless, defeating the second and third seeds Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova to make it through to her first ever Grand Slam final.
Justine Henin (BEL) def. Ana Ivanovic (SER) 6-1, 6-2
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Roger Federer (SUI) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
2006: Nadal and Henin double up
Having won the last three majors at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, Roger Federer was now just one match away from achieving the Grand Slam, albeit over two seasons. The only problem was that Rafael Nadal was standing in his way. The reigning champion however had struggled to overcome Paul-Henri Mathieu in the third round, finally winning an incredible five-hour battle 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
The Majorcan got off to a slow start in the final but little by little, he began to take control of the match with his forehands slowly wearing away Federer's backhand. Rafa finally won after a fourth-set tie-break, securing a second French Open title at the age of just 20. The top four in the ATP rankings all made it through to the semi-finals as well (namely Nadal, Federer, David Nalbandian and Ivan Ljubicic).
In the women's draw, much was expected of world No.1 and Australian Open winner Amelie Mauresmo. Too much, perhaps… Though she would go on to win Wimbledon a few weeks later, she lost in the fourth round in Paris to Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic. The title went to Justine Henin, who defended her title with greater ease than Nadal, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. She defeated Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-4 in the final, and when Nadal followed suit on the final Sunday, it was the first time since Jim Courier and Monica Seles in 1992 that the two defending champions had retained their titles.
Justine Henin (BEL) def. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-4, 6-4
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Roger Federer (SUI) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6
2005: The beginning of the Nadal era
It was the first time that he was playing the French Open, and yet he went on to win the whole thing. Though he was only 19 years old at the time, Rafael Nadal came into the tournament as the favourite, having won in Monte Carlo and Rome. Despite his lack of experience, he lived up to his fledgling reputation and won his first Grand Slam at a canter. Nadal dropped only two sets all fortnight: one to Sebastien Grosjean in the fourth round and a second to surprise package Mariano Puerta in the final. The Argentinean, ranked No.37 in the world, would go on to be banned for drug-taking just a few months later.
Defending champion Gaston Gaudio meanwhile fell in the fourth round to Spaniard David Ferrer (2-6, 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4), having thrown away a 4-0 lead in the final set…
Former women's champion Justine Henin suffered no such misfortune. Having arrived injured and left early after a second-round defeat in 2004, the Belgian won her second Roland Garros title, though she still had to save a match point against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round (7-6, 4-6, 7-5). This was thus the second year in a row that the Russian was one point away from eliminating the eventual winner of the tournament, only to fail to put her away…
Having survived this scare, Henin went from strength to strength and dropped just 13 more games in the remaining three matches. Mary Pierce was her opponent in the final, after the Frenchwoman had knocked out world No.1 Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 6-2 in the Round of 16. Pierce was never in with a shout of winning a second French Open title however, succumbing to a quick-fire 6-1, 6-1 defeat.
Justine Henin (BEL) def. Mary Pierce (FRA) 6-1, 6-1
Rafael Nadal (ESP) def. Mariano Puerta (ARG) 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5