French Open: The Greatest Finals of All Time

Three-times French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten.
Three-times French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten at Jockey Club, Rio de Janeiro, February 16. Kuerten was involved in a memorable battle with Alex Corretja in the 2001 French Open final. Buda Mendes/Getty

With rain falling faster and more viscously than Geri Halliwell's men on Roland Garros, plus criticism for the tournament organizers and sparse crowds for the quarters and semi-finals, perhaps this has been a French Open to remember for the wrong reasons.

Of course, that can all change with two memorable finals, which would fly in the face of received wisdom in normal situations, that good tournaments mostly have disappointing finals. The final is sometimes the damp squib—in this case, it can rescue a sodden Roland Garros 2016. In the meantime—we look back on some of the best denouements in the tournament's history.

Kuerten draws his love in the dirt

The Brazilian was the darling of Roland Garros around the turn of the century; he gave some of that love back on completion of his third French Open win, in 2001.

'Guga,' who might have won more than those three Grand Slams had he not been weakened by repeated, serious injuries, fell to the dust in delight after beating Alex Corretja in four sets, before tracing a heart in the clay. A good final, but a greater moment.

Agassi completes a career Grand Slam

Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and, to a lesser extent, Roger Federer's comparative struggles at the French Open take on a more negative hue when you consider they play in an era when specialization has become less and less important. Witness Rafael Nadal's two Wimbledon triumphs, which would almost certainly not have occurred in the 1990s, when the grass at the All England Club was shorter and the courts quicker as a result.

Andre Agassi, a hard-court specialist, thus came up against a mighty challenge in winning the French Open, in an era when Spaniards and South Americans brought up on the surface dominated.

That changed in the 1999 French Open, when Agassi, who had overcome a crystal meth problem two years previously, beat Andriy Medvedev of Ukraine in the final to become only the fifth man in history to win all four Grand Slams. He had to come from two sets to love down, too, completing a rise out of addiction that had seen him fall to No. 141 in the world.

Borg's mother of all comebacks

Bjorn Borg, many people's idea of the finest tennis player of all time, had to play five sets three times on the way to the 1974 final against Manuel Orantes of Spain, the 14th seed.

Perhaps that effort cost him, because the Swede fell two sets behind against Orantes, only to rally in spectacular style, winning the next three 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 in a turnaround that fairly encapsulated the style of a man who was to retire at just 26.

Seles grinds down Graf

Two of the greatest female players of the 1990s, in a see-sawing epic—really, there was nothing not to love about the 1992 women's French Open final. Monica Seles and Steffi Graf invariably produced a fascinating contrast in styles, and this was perhaps the apogee.

Seles took the first set easily enough, 6-2, before Graf's power showed through in the second, which the German won 6-3.

That was just the prelude to an epic, however, in the deciding set, won by the American, 10-8, in her penultimate Grand Slam before the terrible stabbing incident that sidelined her from the game for two years.

French Open: The Greatest Finals of All Time | Sports