30-Love: Thirty things we loved about the 2017 French Open

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We conclude our month-long special series with remembrances of Roland Garros. (AP)

Thirty days ago, we began our 30-Love series of features with an examination of Andy Murray on the day he turned 30. Eight days later, we did the same for Novak Djokovic, another baseliner who crossed tennis' so-called rubicon. We then looked back at Rafa, and looked ahead with Roger, in painstaking detail. And we made sure no one forgot the epic Roland Garros final between Steffi and Martina, 30 years ago, when two dominant eras converged.

To wrap up our 30-day special, we present 30 indelible memories of the recently completed French Open, a tournament where love means everything. We hope you love reading them as much as we loved remembering them.


1. Even though Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova were absent in Paris, it didn’t feel like a lesser Slam. The tournament—and the sport, for that matter—held its own without three of its most iconic stars.—Brad Kallet

2. After a home invasion left Petra Kvitova with her dominant hand severely injured, a return to her winning ways seemed unlikely. Not only did she show up to compete a month ahead of schedule in Paris, but she won her first round over Julia Boserup, who seemed as inspired as everyone else was.—Nina Pantic

3. Sometimes people forget that athletes are people, too. Perhaps the most heartwarming moment of the French Open’s first week was its most human—Steve Johnson’s second-round victory over Borna Coric. With the recent loss of his father on his mind, the American broke down in tears after hitting a winner on match point. Steve Sr., a longtime tennis coach, was surely beaming with pride from above, coaxing the former USC Trojan to “fight on.”—Andrew Eichenholz

4. Trailing 6-3, 5-1 against red-hot fifth seed Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep staged the most impressive comeback of the tournament. Her fighting spirit and scampering defense never let up, and she survived a match point in the tiebreaker before finishing with a third-set bagel.—Jeremy Eckstein

5. Caroline Garcia of France has experienced more than her share of off-court drama in 2017, especially around her interactions with her countrywomen. She was able to put that all behind her and make a determined charge to the quarterfinals at her home tournament, feeding off the support of the crowd.—Van Sias

6. Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam to not have a roof on any of its courts. While players will be able to battle in rain and darkness by 2020, for now they still have to contend with Mother Nature. However, for us viewers, nothing is funnier than seeing one of the biggest events in the tennis world get completely shut down by constant downpours.—Niko Vercelletto

7. Andre Agassi reemerged, if only for a short period of time. We don’t know where his partnership with Novak Djokovic will go in the coming months, but it was refreshing to see him back on a tennis court, and back in the tennis world.—BK

8. Steve Johnson reaching the third round after losing his father in May was an astonishing feat. Everyone from viewers and fans to his own compatriots were moved by the raw emotion and humanity on display. John Isner said it best: "When you think of lasting images of 2017 in tennis, that’s got to be at the top.”—NP

9. Bonus points for honesty: Second-seeded Karolina Pliskova found new ways to express disappointment with her game throughout the fortnight, hitting serves of self-deprecation like she does aces. Pliskova advanced past the second round at Roland Garros for the first time and made it all the way to the semifinals. If Pliskova was not happy with her game on what is by far her worst surface—and still came within a set of the final—look out, grass courts.—AE

10. In the third round, unseeded Diego Schwartzman gave defending champ Novak Djokovic all he could handle, taking a two-sets-to-one lead. Djokovic rallied to win in five, but Schwartzman’s efforts were recognized by the crowd and his opponent at the end.—VS

11. Displeased with how things went down in the fifth set against eventual match winner Martin Klizan, Laurent Lokoli wanted nothing to do with his opponent afterward. In fact, Lokoli dismissed Klizan’s efforts to shake hands quite emphatically.—VS

12. Even though it was “only” in mixed doubles, Gabriela Dabrowski and her home country of Canada couldn’t be happier with her performance, snatching the Roland Garros crown with her partner, Rohan Bopanna, and becoming the first Canadian female player to do so.NV

13. We got to meet Tunisian Ons Jabeur, and witnessed an inspirational run from Petra Martic. Jabeur, who was juggling the rigors of the tournament with her observation of Ramadan, reached the third round and upset Dominika Cibulkova. Martic, who came into Roland Garros ranked 290th, nearly made it to the quarters. Terrific stories.—BK

14. Defending champion Garbine Muguruza was ushered out of the draw in the fourth round by Kristina Mladenovic in front of a partisan Parisian crowd that tried to destroy the Spaniard while cheering on their home favorite. During her press conference, Muguruza broke down and had to leave the interview room momentarily. She came back composed armed with a slick answer for whether Mladenovic’s multilingual cheering offended her: "No, I think she speaks like 25 languages I heard, so..."—NP

15. Both Ryan Harrison and Donald Young were deemed future stars of American tennis in their mid-teens. While those hopes haven’t quite panned out—Harrison reached his career-high ranking of No. 41 on Monday, while Young got to No. 38 in 2012—it was nice to see them reach the men’s doubles final, in which Harrison won his first Grand Slam alongside Michael Venus. They defeated Young and Santiago Gonzalez in a fun three-setter.—AE

16. Unseeded Jelena Ostapenko upset French Open favorite Simona Halep in an astonishing coming-of-age story. The Latvian shook opponents and mesmerized fans with 299 winners that scorched the red clay. She celebrated her 20th birthday in the semifinals, but her fearless play was the French Open’s most spectacular gift.—JE

17. Rohan Bopanna finally joined his doubles-star compatriots Mahesh Bhupathi, Leander Paes and Sania Mirza as a Grand Slam champ. Bopanna and Gabriela Dabrowski won the mixed doubles at the French, a first major title for both players.—VS

18. Even though Sam Groth couldn’t snag the French Open doubles crown, he was able to win a future wife, proposing to his girlfriend during the tournament. It only makes sense, considering Paris is the city of love.—NV

19. Tennis fans soak in nostalgia every time they tune into televised views of Paris’ historic buildings, brick-red clay and dark green trim at Roland Garros. Line judges hop off their chairs to point fingers at clay marks. Rain delays humorously remind fans that there is no roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier.—JE

20. The French crowd loves its homegrown players, and that was on full display—especially during the women’s matches. When Kristina Mladenovic, Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia were on court, there was a different kind of excitement in the air. —BK

21. Ana Ivanovic, 2008 Roland Garros champion and former No. 1, was honored on Philippe-Chatrier Court, where she gave a beautiful speech and wore an even more beautiful dress. Tennis Channel also focused on her accessories, in particular a gigantic engagement ring given to her by husband Bastian Schweinsteiger because “he doesn’t want anyone to come close.”—NP

22. Novak Djokovic is mired in the toughest slump of his career, going from holding all four Grand Slams and snatching his white whale in Paris a year ago to No. 4 in the rankings now. In fact, he looked defeated toward the end of his quarterfinal loss against Dominic Thiem. But the Serbian’s classy press conference after what must have been a devastating defeat was impressive and introspective, rather than angry and lost, which is something Djokovic deserves credit for in a tough moment.—AE

23. The talented Nick Kyrgios explained how he would rather play with his explosive game on Paris’ historic clay. "I don't really like running. When the rally gets long I tend to just go for a low-percentage shot." Maybe the ghosts at Roland Garros were listening, because Kyrgios was ousted in the second round.—JE

24. While the crowd cheered behind them, Juan Martin del Potro consoled his opponent, Nicolas Almagro after he suffered an injury in the second round. This is the kind of thing that makes tennis great—epic battles coupled with tremendous sportsmanship.—NV

25. There is something especially great about the French Open every year: the crazy shots that happen from sliding on the clay. No other surface allows for the players to glide around like they’re on skates, and it makes for some of the best hot shots of the year.—NV

26. At the start of the tournament, all of the talk was about how wide open the women’s draw was. Well, the prognosticators turned out to be right: It ended up being as wide open as ever. But was that such a bad thing? On the contrary, it made the tournament as unpredictable and thrilling as ever.—BK

27. At the age of 32, Stan Wawrinka made history as the oldest male to reach the Roland Garros final in 32 years. He didn’t drop a set until the semifinals, brandishing his one-handed backhand as his weapon of choice and his emojis on Twitter as his finishing touch.—NP

28. Who would have thought that Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis reaching the semifinals of the 2014 French Open would not be the nation’s best tennis accomplishment of the decade? In fact, Jelena Ostapenko sat in Gulbis’ box that day, and here she is just three years later, the nation’s first major titlist. Don’t forget that she’s joined by compatriot Anastasija Sevastova in the Top 20, too.—AE

29. Brazilian legend Gustavo Kuerten helped usher clay-court tennis into the 21st century with his stylish strokes and surfer’s charisma. Twenty years ago, he won his first Coupe des Mousquetaires on the day Jelena Ostapenko was born. Reminders and references to his career were a treasure during the fortnight.—JE

30. Boris Becker appeared to handle the news of Andre Agassi replacing him as Novak Djokovic’s superstar coach admirably, even interviewing the American at one point. But after Djokovic lost, Becker weighed in, saying Djokovic needs a coach that can commit. Breakups are hard, but Boris, two words: Move on.—VS


WATCH: Rafa's unseen journey to his 10th French Open title:

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