Sunday, May 25, 2008

Au Revoir Guga :(

It was quite an emotional day for French Open fans as they bid farewell three-time former champion, Gustavo Kuerten, who played his final match on Philipe Chatrier against home favorite, Paul-Henri Mathieu, on the opening day of the 2008 French Open.

No disrespect to Guga, I honestly loved watching the guy on clay, but I felt that he needed an inhaler and a stretcher to be ready for him the second the match was over. The Brazilian legend really struggled with his fitness in the third set and I really felt for him, especially given his recent trouble with hip injuries.

The third set of the match felt more like an exhibition match rather than a Grand Slam first round, as Guga, who could barely catch his breath, celebrated with the crowd, who were going crazy with the Mexican waves and were actually cheering against their own man, Mathieu, whenever Guga managed to hit a phenomenal backhand winner.

At some point, Guga corrected a wrong line call and awarded Mathieu an ace instead of a fault, before the Frenchman immediately reciprocated the gesture and corrected a line call in Guga's favor.

As much as Mathieu tried to be a gentlemen, he dispatched Guga in straight sets before he went over and hugged the claycourt veteran.

Guga instantly broke into tears as he thanked his fans and said goodbye to the tournament where he was crowned in 1997, 2000 and 2001. The tournament director awarded him a trophy containing all the different layers of the claycourt enclosed in a glass frame.

The French Open audience has lost 2 great players in one month, as four-time champion, Justine Henin, made an abrupt end to her career a couple of weeks back and will not be featuring in this year's Roland Garros.

1 comment:

van said...

It's definitely sad to see him go. I was just thinking today back to how I originally thought he would never have the career he had: Back in '97, I thought his win was a total fluke. He definitely proved me wrong!

I had a brief Guga encounter years ago when Tennis magazine sponsored this annual event at Grand Central station before the U.S. Open. He was there signing autographs, and I got to shake his hand and wish him luck for the tournament. He said, "Thank you, my friend," which felt really genuine.

Best of luck to him in the future!