After early departures for many top seeds, the semi-finalists in the men’s competition were equally surprising.
Tim Henman became the first Briton since 1963 to reach this stage of the tournament at Roland Garros. Coria, Nalbandian and the unseeded Gaudio – all Argentineans – completed the line-up. Gaudio took the first set with ease against former Estoril winner and Wimbledon semi-finalist David Nalbandian, only to find himself 1-5 down in the second. His never-say-die philosophy helped him take the set to the tiebreak, winning it after a service controversy. The 6-0 scoreline in the third illustrated Nalbandian’s mental state after that reversal.
Rain interrupted the start of Henman’s match against Coria, favourite for the title, and winner of 35 out of 36 encounters on clay over the past 12 months. Once under way, Henman imposed his game on the Argentinean taking the first set. Coria finally found some answers, took the second 6-4 and roared to a 6-0 third set victory. Henman fought back to 5-4 in the fourth, serving to level the match. The tenacious Coria, however, was able to break the serve and win the next two games to set up an all-Argentinean final against compatriot Gaston Gaudio.
That match went the full distance, with Gaudio coming back from two sets down to outlast favourite Coria 0-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 8-6, taking his first Grand Slam title.