This year, the French Open aka Rolland Garros is all set to be held from May 16 and the excitement for the same is quite palpable. After all, it is one of the few major events that bring the best Tennis players under one umbrella. The joy multiplied further when France decided to do away with several Covid-19 restrictions, clearing all the hurdles for the entry of the anti-vaccine crusader Novak Djokovic into Paris. With injury forcing Roger Federer to miss another major event, the absence of the Serb would have been a huge dampener. So, it will be a treat to watch Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, Iga Swiatek etc in action this year.
Over the years, several high-profile players have taken part in the event but the title has eluded some of the big names in the sport. Their barren run at the Rolland Garros continues to baffle everyone. Therefore, let us find out who they are.
The tennis legend of the 90s has 14 Grand Slam titles under his belt, but the French honour has proved to be elusive in his illustrious career. His best at the Rolland Garros came in the year 1996 but his progress beyond the Semi was halted by the Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov, to whom the American eventually lost in straight sets. Unfortunately, Sampras also has an unflattering record in the French Open with just 24 wins from 37 matches. So, for the US legend, the lack of a French Open trophy stands out like a sore thumb in an otherwise glorious journey of his.
Another legendary player, who was unable to win the French Open even once, happened to be Jimmy Connors. Despite pocketing eight Grand Slams, the US player could not manage a single Rolland Garros even after entering the Semis four times. In the Semi-Finals of 1979, 1980, 1984 and 1985 his march towards the French summit was stopped by unseeded Victor Pecci, fifth-seeded Vitas Gerulaitis, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl respectively. So, Connors also falls in the category of those legends who were unable to breach the French fortress even once despite getting some good opportunities for the same.
The American was notorious for his mercurial temper on courts and has been reprimanded several times by the match referees. And another facet of his game that won’t make him any proud is his barren run at Rolland Garros. Despite winning 7 Grand Slams and one French Open Mixed Doubles title, the lack of a singles title in Paris must be haunting him even now. Though McEnroe came within striking distance of winning one in 1984 when he reached the final eventually he lost the thrilling encounter to Ivan Lendl.
Another big name to falter in Paris happens to be Boris Becker. With 49 titles, including 6 Grand Slams, in his fabulous career, the German’s dry spell at Roland Garros is quite mystifying. Having made it to the French Open Semis thrice, Becker’s further advances were thwarted by Mats Wilander in 1987, Stefan Edberg in 1989 and Andre Agassi in 1991. In fact, the legendary German player was eyeing a career Grand Slam in 1991 but the Australian proved to be a tough nut to crack for him.
The Swede had been a force to reckon with in the world of tennis from the mid-80s to the mid-’90s. In his magnificent sojourn, Stefan Edberg had won 6 Grand Slam Single titles and 3 Grand Slam Men’s Doubles titles. Also, Edberg happened to be the only player apart from McEnroe to be ranked World number 1 in Singles and Doubles categories. However, akin to some of the numero uno Tennis players, he could not lay his hands on the French Open trophy even once. The closest he came to grabbing the French honour was in 1989 when he reached the final only to be beaten by the 15th seeded teenager Michael Chang.