French Open 1997,2000,2001
Gustavo Kuerten was born in Floreanapolis in Brazil. He had to overcome tragedy early in life after the death of his father. Kuerten excelled at tennis and became a national hero. A naturally exuberant character, Kuerten’s backhand down the line and comeback wins became his trademarks. Kuerten made his Grand Slam debut at the French Open in 1996 and went out in the opening round to Wayne Ferreira. He arrived at the 1997 French Open ranked 66 in the world but he edged out former champion Thomas Muster in the third round and beat Andrei Medvedev in five sets in round four and defending champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov in five sets in the quarters. In the semis he beat the unseeded Filip Dewulf in four sets before thrashing former champion Sergi Bruguera in the final to take the title. He was the lowest ranked player to win the French Open title. Kuerten had come from being an unknown to be tennis' new hot property in the space of a fortnight. With his entertaining style of play and endearing personality, Kuerten soon built up a big following. However, after his great triumph Kuerten struggled to re-establish himself for the next couple of years. At the 1999 French Open he lost in the quarters on a windy day to Andrei Medvedev, who used the drop shot to good effect. At the US Open Kuerten lost at the quarterfinal stage in four long sets to Cedric Pioline in a classic encounter. At the 2000 French Open Kuerten came from two sets to one and 4-2 down in the fourth set to beat Kafelnikov in the quarters and overcame Juan-Carlos Ferrero in five sets in the semis. In the final Kuerten led Magnus Norman by two sets to one before an epic fourth set developed. Kuerten finally took it on the tiebreak on his eleventh match point to win his second Grand Slam title. At the French Open the following year Kuerten was match point down to Michael Russell in the fourth round but won the match and went on to beat Kafelnikov in the quarters, Ferrero in the semis and Alex Corretja in the final for his third title. Then Kuerten’s career began to decline and he suffered from injuries. He reached the quarters of the 2004 French Open, beating Roger Federer along the way (Federer's only Grand Slam loss that year) but this was the last time fans were to see Kuerten competing with the best. Then he was beset by injuries and needed a wild card in order to bid a final farewell to the French Open in 2008, where he lost in the opening round in straight sets to Paul-Henri Mathieu. The great Gustavo certainly made his mark on the red clay of Roland Garros during his career.
© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE
HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: A.Agassi 0-1, S.Bruguera 1-0, M.Chang 1-0, A.Costa 1-1, R.Federer 1-0, J.C.Ferrero 2-0, G.Gaudio 2-0, G.Ivanisevic 1-0, Y.Kafelnikov 3-1, T.Muster 1-0, M.Safin 0-2
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