This Date in French Open History: June 3
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.
June 3, 2001: Gustavo Kuerten d. Michael Russell, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-1
The reigning champion saved a match point to spark a rousing comeback, which he concluded by carving a heart into the red clay as a memorable Kuerten call to the French faithful.
Russell, who saved a match point in the final round of qualifying to become the first man in history to qualify for four consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, faced the world No. 1 as an overwhelming underdog. Empowered by a deep desire—to avoid embarrassment—the 5'8" Detroit native wasn't exactly devising giant-killer plans in his Roland Garros debut against the 6'3" Brazilian with the huge heart and expansive reach.
"When I held serve first game, I was actually thinking to myself, 'Hey at least I can't lose 6-0, 6-0, 6-0'," Russell said. "I know, not very positive. However, as the match went on I realized that I could play with Guga and I was winning a lot of the rallies."
Hours later, Russell made believers of the shocked stadium crowd as he held match point and was poised to produce one of the most monumental upsets in Grand Slam history. Kuerten refused to crack, winning a 26-shot rally with a forehand winner to stay alive and spark a surge. He would become the sixth man in history to save a match point and eventually win the French Open. Fast forward to the 1:57 mark of the video to see the pair play one of the most entertaining Roland Garros match points in recent memory, followed by Kuerten’s Valentine to the fans.
“It wasn’t the final, but emotionally it was the happiest day of my career. The connection between the public and myself touched me very much,” Kuerten told us in a recent interview. “A simple act to show my appreciation for the people, for tennis and for that emotional moment will stay with me forever.”
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