“Guga” revealed – the 21-year-old Brazilian , known before that match only to Brazilian, American (Davis Cup match a few months earlier) and hardcore fans, shocked the tennis world eliminating one of the title contenders, arguably the best clay-court player of the 90s – Muster . Prior to that match, Kuerten had never won three consecutive matches at the main-level, so even though Muster hadn’t been in a clay-court form of the previous two years (he entered the French Open ’97 with a modest 5-5 clay record for the season outdoors), he was a former champion, and many could see him as a potential champion, along with Rios, Chang, Corretja, Medvedev, A.Costa & Bruguera (defending champion Kafelnikov was struggling with injury in the first half of the season). Kuerten was spreading winners all over the place for more than three hours, in the sets he lost he had also moments of brilliance: in the opener he improved from *2:5 to 6:5 (30-all), in the 4th set he had four break points leading 2:1. Muster was an excellent five-set player, so as he led 3:0* in the decider, his another five-set win (he’d defeated 3-2 Goellner in 1R) seemed inevitable, but the Brazilian was playing his inspired tennis against all odds and he took the last three games… Three years earlier on the same court no. 1, Muster survived against an other Roland Garros champion (1999) Agassi, in a dramatic encounter when only three points fewer were played (335 vs 338), but 34 minutes more required. Agassi was playing very fast tennis, so the pace of the Brazilian was mind-blowing. During the fortnight he became one of the most sensational Grand Slam champions ever, not only in terms of lack of experience, but also because of his style – he was playing on clay like on hardcourts, with one big difference – clay allowed him to use dropshots with higher frequency.
You must be logged in to post a comment.