Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the 2022 Australian Open
Only seven players, including Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, have recovered from two sets down to win a Grand Slam singles final in the Open Era. Of the elite club of men’s players to have achieved the feat, five have won multiple Majors and are considered all-time tennis greats.
Five of the seven comebacks have occurred in championship matches at Roland Garros.
Here’s a look at the seven players who have come back from two sets to love down to win a Grand Slam singles final in the Open Era:
#7 Rafael Nadal – 2022 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev after the 2022 Australian Open final
Rafael Nadal outlasted Daniil Medvedev in an epic Australian Open final in January to become the latest player to win a Major final after losing the opening two sets. Nadal prevailed 2–6, 6–7(5), 6–4, 6–4, 7–5 against the No. 2 seed in five hours and 24 minutes – the second longest Major final ever.
Nadal, seeded sixth in Melbourne, trailed 2–6, 6–7(5), 2–3 (0–40), before turning the match around to win his second Australian Open title and men’s record 21st Major crown. It was Nadal’s first comeback from two sets down since beating Mikhail Youzhny at Wimbledon in 2007.
Nadal, 35, is the only player to win an Australian Open final after losing the first two sets since Roy Emerson in 1965, before the Open Era.
#6 Novak Djokovic – 2021 French Open
Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the 2021 French Open
Novak Djokovic downed No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6–7(6), 2–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4 in a four-hour-and-12-minute 2021 Roland Garros final. The top-seeded Serb fell two sets behind after failing to serve out the opening set, but did not face a break point in reeling off the final three sets.
Djokovic’s triumph secured his 19th Grand Slam title and made him the first man in the Open Era to win all four Majors twice. The 34-year-old also became the first player in the Open Era to win two matches from 0-2 down in sets en route to securing a Grand Slam title.
The World No. 1 also recovered after losing the opening two sets to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the fourth round in Paris.
#5 Dominic Thiem – 2020 US Open
Dominic Thiem edged Alexander Zverev 2–6, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 7–6(6) in a rollercoaster, four-hour-and-five-minute 2020 US Open final. The No. 2 seed trailed the fifth-seeded German by two sets and a break at 1-2 in the third, as well as 3-5 in the final set, before winning a tense deciding set tiebreak.
The victory saw Thiem claim his maiden Major crown in his fourth final – in what was the first ever US Open title match to be decided by a fifth-set tiebreak. The Austrian became the first player in the Open Era, and the first since Pancho Gonzalez in 1949, to recover from two sets down to win a US Open final.
#4 Gaston Gaudio – 2004 French Open
Gaston Gaudio defeated Argentine compatriot Guillermo Coria 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6 in a three-hour-and 31-minute 2004 French Open final. After storming through the opening two sets, No. 3 seed Coria began to struggle with cramps as the match progressed.
Coria served for the match twice in the fifth set and held two championship points, but Gaudio survived to complete a stunning comeback and claim his only Grand Slam title. The Argentine became the first unseeded man to win the Roland Garros title since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997. Gaudio also won five-setters against Guillermo Canas and Jiri Novak in the opening two rounds in Paris.
#3 Andre Agassi – 1999 French Open
Andre Agassi after winning the 1999 French Open
Andre Agassi overcame Andrei Medvedev 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 in a 1999 Roland Garros final lasting two hours and 55 minutes. The No. 13 seed fell two sets behind to his 100th-ranked Ukrainian opponent after a 20-minute rain delay early in the second set.
The American crucially saved a break point at 4-4 in the fourth set, before turning the contest around to win his only French Open crown. Agassi’s triumph completed the Career Grand Slam and made him the first man to win all four Major events on different surfaces. The former World No. 1 also survived a five-setter against Arnaud Clement in the second round of the tournament.
#2 Ivan Lendl – 1984 French Open
No. 2 seed Ivan Lendl edged No. 1 seed John McEnroe 3–6, 2–6, 6–4, 7–5, 7–5 in the 1984 French Open title match. The Czechoslovakian trailed his American rival 2-4 in the fourth set, before winning five of the next six games to force a decider, which he also edged 7-5.
The comeback saw Lendl win his first Grand Slam title in his fifth final appearance and deny McEnroe in his only Roland Garros final. It also ended McEnroe’s perfect 42-0 run in 1984.
#1 Bjorn Borg – 1974 French Open
Bjorn Borg saw off Manuel Orantes 2–6, 6–7(4–7), 6–0, 6–1, 6–1 in the 1974 French Open championship match. After dropping the opening two sets, the No. 3 seed remarkably lost just two more games against the 14th-seeded Spaniard.
It was Borg’s first Major title. The Swede went on to secure six Roland Garros titles and 11 Grand Slam crowns overall.