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forty years ago, the coronation of Yannick Noah at Roland-Garros

Forty years ago, Yannick Noah was the last Frenchman to win a Grand Slam tournament at home. A look back at a tricolor feat that marked Roland-Garros.

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Sunday, June 5, 1983 remains an important date in French sport. Since the victory of Yannick Noah in the Roland-Garros final against Mats Wilander, no tricolor won on the Porte d’Auteuil side. At the time, Noah was not the favorite of this final, facing the defending champion, winner of 36 of his last 37 meetings. The Swede, who lost in three sets (6-2, 7-5, 7-6), faced an overexcited Noah.

No solution for Mats Wilander

For me, Yannick was a complete stranger in 1983. I started to discover him a little in the spring of 1983 when we played against each other in Lisbon in the final (April 1983). Before the French Open final, it wasn’t particularly good news for me that Yannick beat Lendl in the quarterfinals because at the beginning, when I faced Lendl on clay, I honestly wasn’t afraid of him. at the time. But Yannick didn’t worry me either. The possibility of not winning this final never crossed my mind. Of course, there is always a risk, but I didn’t think about it at all. I said to myself “whatever he does, I will have an answer, and we play in three winning sets”. And I think that was my biggest mistake. For the first hour of the finals I had absolutely no solutions and when I started to find them it was too late », recalls today Mats Wilander for Eurosport.

This year 1983, marked by the marketing of the first compact disc (CD) in France, remains the finest in sporting terms. future singer. At Roland-Garros, Noah is on cloud nine. For his first match, he returns manu militari at home Sweden’s Anders Järryd (6-1, 6-0, 6-2). In the second round, the Paraguayan Victor Pecci paid the price for the ogre Noah.

I knew that Yannick had all the assets to get there. He was sure of it too. When he was physically well, he knew he could beat anyone. His physique was the key. A big part of my work was focused on it. People never realized how hard he worked to get here », Says today his trainer at the time, Patrice Hagelauer.

Marcel Bernard in 1946

There will also be the victory in the round of 16 against John Alexander, that in the quarters against Ivan Lendl (world number 3) and this semi-final between compatriots which eliminates shooting star Christophe Roger-Vasselin (25 years old, 130th in the world) , he who was defeated to the general surprise of the world number 1 at the time, Jimmy Connors in the quarters! ” Before the half against Noah, I told myself that anything could happen, even if he was in top form. The last time we played each other was at the National in Nice, in 1981, I lost in five sets, leading two sets to nil. When you have just beaten the world number one, if you don’t have confidence at that moment, you will never have confidence! If I have any regrets, it’s only that I didn’t play a full game », Admitted Christophe Roger-Vasselin to The Team in 2017.

Finally, Noah became the first French player to win the men’s singles at Roland-Garros since Marcel Bernard in 1946. Victory in his pocket, he rushed in tears into his father’s arms. The image has gone around the world and remains among the most beautiful in French sport.

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