40 years after Noah’s victory, the French are still struggling

40 years after Noah’s victory, the French are still struggling

2023-06-02 16:08:20

Once again, the winner of Roland-Garros will not be a Frenchwoman or a Frenchman. The last three tricolors in the running to access the third round of the 2023 edition of the tournament, Diane Parry, Océane Dodin and Arthur Rinderknech, were eliminated on Thursday June 1. They were however 28 French engaged this year, a record.

For the third consecutive year, no French therefore reached the round of 16. Since Yannick Noah’s victory against Mats Wilander in 1983, only Mary Pierce has managed to hoist the tricolor to first place on the podium of the famous clay-court tournament. The men have not recorded any victory for 40 years, despite some hopes.

► The disappointed hopes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

The last Frenchman to reach the Roland-Garros semi-finals was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the 2015 edition. That year, he managed to beat Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals in a spectacular match, interrupted after a metal plate fell on the audience. The 15th in the world at the time defeated the Japanese in five sets, but lost in the semis to the Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.

Two years earlier, he had achieved the feat of defeating, in just three sets, the world number 3, Roger Federer. This victory allows him to reach the semi-final, during which he lost to David Ferrer, world number 5, after a two-hour match, in three winning sets for the Spaniard.

In 2012, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had already raised the hopes of the French after a two-day match against Stanislas Wawrinka, beaten in five sets. Then he got four match points against Serbian Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Before losing the match which could have opened the door to a semi-final.

► Gaël Monfils in the semi-finals

Before Tsonga, Gaël Monfils had climbed to the semi-finals in the 2008 edition. The Parisian distinguished himself that year by winning against David Ferrer in the quarter-finals, in four sets. But the then world number 1, Roger Federer, defeated the French in four sets in the semi-final, ending hopes of a French victory.

► Mary Pierce, the last Frenchwoman to win

After a lost final in 1994 against the Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez, the French Mary Pierce, then aged 25, managed to win the tournament in 2000, against Conchita Martinez in two sets (6-2, 7-5). She thus scored the first female victory in 33 years, since the coronation of Françoise Dürr in 1967 and the first French victory since Yannick Noah.

Five years later, the champion qualified again for the final, after beating the Russian Elena Likhovtseva (6-1, 6-1). However, she was eliminated by the Belgian Justine Hénin in the final after a quick match lost in two sets, 6-1, 6-1.

► Henri Leconte beaten in the final

In 1988, the Northerner Henri Leconte, barely 25 years old, successively surpassed the German Boris Becker then the Swedish Jonas Svensson before finding Mats Wilander in the final. The same opponent that Yannick Noah had beaten in the final of the tournament, five years earlier.

The Swede, world number 3, who has already won Roland-Garros twice, takes his revenge. He defeated the French in three sets (7-5, 6-2, 6-1) winning fifteen of the last eighteen games of the match.

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