This Date in French Open History: June 8
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 8, 1996: Steffi Graf d. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 10-8
An epic final filled with dramatic momentum shifts and dazzling shot-making saw Graf summon some of her most assertive play in the waning stages to prevail with a thrilling three-hour and four-minute victory—the longest women’s final in French Open history.
Graf seemed to be on course for a straight-sets win when she earned a 4-1 lead in the second-set tiebreaker. But Sanchez-Vicario smacked a bold forehand winner up the line that roused her and rattled Graf. The German committed four consecutive unforced errors and hit a double fault of the top of the tape, as Sanchez Vicario stormed back to win six straight points and level the match, pumping both fists as she walked to her courtside seat.
The top-seeded Graf, who had won 12 of 16 prior clay-court matches against Sanchez-Vicario, trailed 2-4 in the third set, and the Spanish counter-puncher earned two break points to take a 5-2 stronghold. But Graf refused to yield and held for 3-4. Sanchez-Vicario, who beat Graf in the 1989 French Open final before losing to her in the 1996 final, served for the title at 5-4 and 7-6, only to see her opponent dig in and play some of her best tennis of the match. Graf did not make an unforced error in either game and fought back to capture her fifth French Open crown in one of the highest-quality Roland Garros finals in Open era history.
“These kinds of matches give you such satisfaction and emotions I know I’ll never have after my tennis career,” Graf said. “I don’t think they’re going to make me play longer, but they kind of tell me the reason why I’m still here.”
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