Gaudio wins French Open

Gaudio wins French Open thriller
By Reuters

06/06/2004 at 19:22Updated

Gaston Gaudio fought back from two sets down and saved two match points to beat fellow-Argentine Guillermo Coria 0-6 3-6 6-4 6-1 8-6 and win the French Open on Sunday. Coria had dominated the opening two sets of the first all-Argentine final in grand slam

Although the fifth set was a tense battle of nerves, Gaudio had the final say after three hours and 31 minutes.

"Since I was a kid, this was a dream for me but now that I'm here, it's just too much for me and I don't know what to say," a stunned Gaudio told the Centre Court crowd.

"Coria played unbelievable tennis for the two weeks, I'm sure he's going to get it next year."

Gaudio, ranked 44th in the world, became the second Argentine to win at Roland Garros, 27 years after Guillermo Vilas.

"I want to thank Guillermo Vilas because it's thanks to him that we both started to play," Gaudio said after being presented the Musketeers Cup by the 1977 winner and American John McEnroe.

Martin Verkerk at the French Open semi-finals last year.

DICTATED PLAY

The first set was a one-sided affair as Coria took advantage of his opponent's errors and jitters to break him straightaway.

The second set also started badly for Gaudio, who kept making double faults and unforced errors to let Coria win eight games in succession.

The crowd went wild as Gaudio finally held serve for the first time in the third game of the second set. But he dropped his racket in despair as he was broken again to go 4-1 down.

The start of the third set was more disputed. Rallies were longer and Gaudio seemed determined to keep the ball in play.

For the first time, the 25-year-old took the upper hand, breaking Coria at the end of a superb rally to lead 3-2.

It was the turning point of the match as Coria asked for the physiotherapist to massage his left thigh when he returned to his chair at 1-1 in the fourth set.

Standing still behind his baseline and missing all his shots, Coria looked on the verge of giving up as Gaudio took the fourth set 6-1.

Coria, who was given pills to fight cramps, appeared to regain his form at the start of the fifth set, breaking Gaudio to lead 1-0.

Coria had two match points in the 12th game but Gaudio refused to cave in.

Gaudio kept fighting and finally finished off his compatriot with a backhand winner just two games later.

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