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The biggest upsets in French Open history

Michael Chang takes the tennis world by storm by beating Ivan Lendl in the 1989 final

17-year old Michael Chang beats the world number one to become the youngest-ever winner of a Slam, Kim Clijsters is knocked out by a player ranked outside the Top 100 and other magical moments from the red dirt courts of Roland Garros.

2011 - Rus beats Clijsters

Kim Clijsters, who'd won the previous two Grand Slams, was unceremoniously dispatched from last year's French Open by 20-year-old Aranxta Rus from The Netherlands, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1. Clijsters failed to convert two match points in the second set and then fell to pieces in the third, suffering a 6-1 final set hammering. After holding match point at 5-2 in the second set, Clijsters lost 11 of the next 12 games. To put Clijsters' defeat into perspective, her opponent was ranked 114th at the time.

1972 - Gimeno becomes oldest winner

Spanish player Andrés Gimeno's finest hour came in 1972's French Open. He won his first and only Grand Slam that year, and in doing so became the oldest male player to win the French Open - at the age of 34. This record still stands today and is unlikely to be ever beaten. He beat local boy and crowd favourite Patrick Proisy in the final and despite this win, was never ranked higher than 9th in the world.

1973/1976 - Panatta beats Borg - twice

Italian Adriano Panatta actually won the French Open once, in 1976, but his major achievement was beating Bjorn Borg twice in the tournament while the ice-cool Swede was at the top of his game. Panatta beat Harold Solomon in the 1976 final, but the upset of the tournament that year was his defeat of all-time great Bjorn Borg in the quarters. While it was a giant-killing in its own right, he'd already set the precedent three years earlier by pummelling the head-banded Swede into submission in the fourth round. For the record, Borg won the tournament six times.

1989 - 17-year-old Chang wins

Michael Chang became the youngest-ever man to win a Grand Slam singles title when he won the French Open in 1989 at the age of 17, knocking Becker's Wimbledon achievement in 1985 into a cocked hat.

Chang, who is credited with introducing the airborne two-handed backhand to the game, will be best remembered for beating the then world no. 1, reigning Australian Open champion, and three-time former French Open champion Ivan Lendl. Hot favourite Lendl looked to be cruising to victory after taking the first two sets 6-4, 6-4, then breaking the Chang serve in the first game of the third set. Imagine what his price would have been if Betfair had been around at the time? Chang broke back immediately and went on to somehow win an extraordinary match in five sets.

1978 - Ruzici beats Jausovec

Virginia Ruzici's win in the final of the 1978 French Open is all the more remarkable when you consider that in a career spanning twelve years, she never got further than the quarter finals in any of the other Grand Slam events.

In the 1978 French Open final, she beat the holder Mima Jaušovec. This was a tremendous achievement in itself, but all the more surprising given that the match was so one-sided, finishing 6-2, 6-2. Clearly, Jausovec wasn't one to bear a grudge, as she partnered Ruzici in the doubles in the same year and won the tournament. The singles result was such a shock that no Youtube footage exists of it, but there is some of her French Open final against Chris Evert in 1980, which she lost.


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18 May 2012

French Open

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