This Date in French Open History: May 29
Every morning of the French Open, we'll take a look back at a memorable match that occurred on that calendar day at Roland Garros.
May 29, 1998: Marat Safin d. Gustavo Kuerten, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
On a historic day, the qualifier conquered the champion. World No. 116 Safin, who upset former finalist Andre Agassi in five sets in the opening round, beat defending champ Kuerten despite serving just 49 percent in a two hour, 45-minute match between a pair of players popular with the Roland Garros faithful. It marked the first time in Open era history that a qualifier defeated a reigning champion in a Grand Slam tournament. “I feel bad for Guga because he is defending champion, but this is tennis life,” a philosophical Safin said after the match.
The 18-year-old Russian, who was playing Challenger events in the weeks prior to his breakthrough in Paris, then pushed 17th-ranked Frenchman Cedric Pioline to five sets before losing in the fourth round. Two years later, Marat and Guga dueled for the year-end No. 1 ranking, this time with Kuerten coming through (he beat Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in succession to capture the 2000 Tennis Masters Cup and become the first South American man to secure the year-end top spot). Kuerten, who won three French Open titles, told us recently that Safin is one of the rivals he most enjoyed playing during his Hall of Fame career.
May 27 (1992): Connors goes down swinging
May 28 (1983): Horvath spoils perfection
May 29 (1998): Safin shocks the champ
May 30 (1999): Agassi defeats Moya
May 31 (2003): Robredo's remarkable rally
June 1 (1993): Fernandez foils a friend
June 2 (1994): Pierce pummels Graf in semis
June 3 (2001): Kuerten's comeback vs. Russell
June 4 (2005): Henin, the Queen of Clay
June 5 (2010): Francesca wins the final
June 6 (1989): The underdog's underhanded serve
June 7 (1981): Borg's final final-round triumph
June 8 (1996): 10-8 in the third: Graf vs. A. S-V
June 9 (2001): Capriati's 12-10 win over Clijsters
June 10 (1990): Gomez denies flashy Agassi