FRENCH OPEN MEN'S FINAL 1985
Fourth-seeded Mats Wilander, who had won his first title in Paris as a 17-year-old wunderkind in 1982 stunned second-seeded Ivan Lendl, the defending champion, in the men's final with his Mats Attack. It's a perfectly planned strategy of patient rallying from the baseline combined with frequent forays to the net - a serve-and-volley attack that Wilander has come to find much more fun than the baseline game, and one that has also earned him the last two Australian Open titles.
The 20-year-old Swede's 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Lendl in the men's final on a blustery, sometimes rainy day carried a strange twist of fate with it for both men. For Wilander, it was his first title of 1985. His last had come in another Grand Slam event - the Australian Open last December. But Wilander now has a reputation as a player who seems to come through in the biggies. For his Czech opponent, however, it was once again a haunting reminder that his reputation has been just the opposite. In seven Grand Slam finals, Lendl has gone home with the trophy only once, and that was at last year's French when he hoped he had finally rid himself of the bridesmaid image. His loss to Wilander was a bitter disappointment because Lendl had rolled into the tournament with four straight tournament titles and a svelte body credited to diet guru, Robert Haas...
As if the clay courts weren't enough of a test of skill and conditioning, the weather added an extra element this year. During the two weeks, the climate moved from balmy spring weather to searing heat and gusty winds that blew great puffs of clay into the players' eyes to, at the end, raw, rainy days as the temperature plunged...
In the men's final Lendl began by mixing up his shots well. He angled his big serve wide to Wilander's backhand, went for the ace down the middle and hit a few volley winners. He wrapped up the first set tidily in 43 minutes. 43 minutes was about all Wilander needed to uncurl from his mental catnap and put his attack into action - the one he would later describe as "100 percent perfect against Ivan. I wouldn't say I played my best tennis against Ivan, but I played the right tennis."
The right tennis was to rally patiently, wait for the short ball and attack. He stood well inside the baseline to take everything he could on the rise, and with a steadily increasing wind, he drove ball after ball deep to Lendl's backhand side, using the swirling wind to move the ball around so that Lendl could not set up properly for the backhand. Wilander, moreover, was loose: "For me there was no pressure. I wasn't expected to win. I didn't expect to win myself. That's why I think I do well in the important tournaments."
After the two finalists traded breaks in the opening games of the second set, Wilander took command of the match as he served and volleyed to nail down the set 6-4. In the third, Lendl never held serve, and his spirits seemed to flag during the long seventh game on his serve that went to seven deuces, and that he lost. Wilander then closed out the last two sets convincingly.
(TENNIS, August 1985)