French Open 2004
Gaston Gaudio was a 25-year-old journeyman who had never got beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam before his unlikely triumph at the 2004 French Open. A succession of opponents handed matches to Gaudio on a plate. Lleyton Hewitt played poorly against Gaudio in the quarters and David Nalbandian blew a 5-1 second set lead against him in the semis. However, Guillermo Coria's performance against him in the final was in a different league. It proved to be one of the most bizarre matches in the history of the game. Gaudio was totally overcome by the occasion as he lost the first two sets and seemed on course for a straight sets defeat. Gaudio managed to steal the third set and then, inexplicably, Coria lost the plot. He hardly moved to the ball in the fourth set and claimed an injury, though it seemed that he was either overreacting or tanking deliberately as a tactic to put his opponent off. At the start of the fifth set Coria suddenly began playing better, though not quite as well as in the first two sets. Gaudio got nervous as the winning line approached and Coria regained momentum. Coria served for the championship at 5-4 but nerves got the better of him and he was broken to love. He served for the match again at 6-5 and had two championship points but again lost his nerve. Gaudio broke back and went on to win the set 8-6 and with it the title. Goran Ivanisevic, like Gaudio, had been unseeded when he won his Grand Slam title, but the veteran Ivanisevic had reached three Wimbledon finals before his triumph. Gustavo Kuerten, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi and Boris Becker all won Grand Slam titles unseeded when they were young, but went on to have great careers. Mal Anderson and Fred Stolle both won the U. S. Open unseeded but had good careers. Other than Gaudio, only Mark Edmondson has a claim to be the most unlikely winner of a Grand Slam title since seeding began in the 1920s. Even Edmondson reached two Grand Slam semi finals after winning the Australian Open. Gaudio disappeared back into obscurity, content in the knowledge that he had succeeded at the highest level. No one can ever take his moment of glory away from him.
© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE
HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: M.Chang 0-1, J.C.Ferrero 1-1, L.Hewitt 1-1, T.Johansson 0-1, G.Kuerten 0-2
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