RG18

FRENCH OPEN HISTORY: WERE THE 1990s AS WEAK AS YOU THINK?

by

Matt Zemek

When we revisit eras in any field of endeavor — not just tennis, and not just sports — do we realize that the era in question was exactly the way we first remembered or processed it? Many times, we walk away with an accurate view which remains in place… but on many other occasions, the misty haze of nostalgia or the fog of an imperfect memory cloud our understanding of a previous period in history.

We know that 2004 marked the end of one era in the history of the men’s French Open, and that 2005 began another. This is life before and after Rafael Nadal won his first Roland Garros title in 2005.

2005 through 2017 is a 13-year period, so I thought, why not compare those 13 years to the previous 13 years? Just how different were most of the 1990s and the early 2000s compared to the Nadal years at the French Open?

13 years of French Opens — with four semifinal berths available each year — mean that in the time blocks analyzed below, 52 semifinal berths were earned. Here are the numbers:

1992 – 2004 French Open men’s semifinalists

35 players made semifinals

Part I: 10 repeat semifinalists

2 players with 4 SFs — 8 semifinal berths out of 52

Sergi Bruguera

Juan Carlos Ferrero

3 players with 3 — 9 semifinal berths

Jim Courier

Alex Corretja

Gustavo Kuerten

5 players with 2 — 10 semifinal berths

Guillermo Coria

Andrei Medvedev

Andre Agassi

Albert Costa

Yevgeny Kafelnikov

Part II: One-hit Wonders

25 players with 1 SF

Thomas Muster

Gaston Gaudio

Martin Verkerk

Magnus Norman

Tim Henman

Petr Korda

Carlos Moya

Pete Sampras

Michael Stich

Alberto Berasategui

David Nalbandian

Marat Safin

Sebastian Grosjean

Franco Squillari

Fernando Meligeni

Dominik Hrbaty

Felix Mantilla

Cedric Pioline

Filip Dewulf

Patrick Rafter

Marc Rosset

Michael Chang

Magnus Larsson

Richard Krajicek

Henri Leconte

2005-2017 French Open men’s semifinalists

19 players made semifinals

Part I: 10 repeat semifinalists

Top 5 — 33 semifinal berths out of 52

Rafael Nadal, 10

Novak Djokovic, 8

Roger Federer, 7

Andy Murray, 5

Stan Wawrinka, 3

 

5 players with 2 SFs — 10 semifinal berths

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

David Ferrer

Robin Soderling

Dominic Thiem

Nikolay Davydenko

Part II: One-hit Wonders

9 players with 1 SF

Jurgen Melzer

Fernando Gonzalez

Ernests Gulbis

Ivan Ljubicic

Gael Monfils

Tomas Berdych

Juan Martin del Potro

Mariano Puerta

David Nalbandian

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