The French Open has had its share of surprises, probably more than any other Grand Slam tournament. Many unbeaten streaks have been broken, many champions have fallen and many have risen to the throne almost unexpectedly. Here are some who despite dominating world tennis, found the French Open as a hurdle in their career.
He was touted as the greatest player in World tennis active at one time, but Pete Sampras could never conquer the French battlegrounds. The American, who won 14 grand slam titles could never even reach the final of the French Open. His best performance came in the 1996 edition where he finished as the semi finalist, losing out to Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who went on to win the title.
Martina Hingis was the youngest top-ranked player in World Tennis but even in a spell of sheer dominance, the Swiss could not conquer the French Open. She won 5 Grand Slam titles, which included all other Grand Slam tournaments.
Roger Federer's pursuit of the French Open took him to 3 consecutive unsuccessful finals against Rafael Nadal with the Spaniard emerging victorious on all occasions. Federer finally won the title in 2009, a year which saw Rafael Nadal succumbing to injuries and a stubborn Robin Soderling who was Federer's opponent in the final.
The French Open has never seen a German champion, a statistic that even Boris Becker could not break away from. The 6 ft. 3 in. West German who won 6 grand slam tournaments never managed to break past the semi final stage, not even after the Berlin wall was broken.
Jimmy Connors is another American amongst the players who struggled at the French Open. Connors, who won 8 grand slam titles, never managed to find his way past the semi final stage at Roland Garros.
With a career consisting of 875 wins and just 198 losses, John McEnroe has one of the highest winning percentages (81.55%) in the World. The American however, never won the French Open, reaching the final once in 1984, also the year which saw him winning his last Grand Slam tournament in the shape of Wimbledon.
She has been known to caste a spell on the court as much as off it, but there is one thing that Maria Sharapova could not captivate; the French Open title. The Russian who has won the Australian Open, the US Open and the Wimbledon once each, reached the 2007 French Open semi final, which stands to be her best performance so far.
The former World No.1 reached the French Open at the age of 17 but the two-hour, 21-minute match which featured the longest third set in a French Open women's final ended in the favour of her opponent, Jennifer Capriati. During the match Clijsters was four times within two points of winning, which is the closest that she got to winning the title.
Andre Agassi reached his first French Open final at the age of 20 in 1990 and then again in 1991 but returned on the losing side on both occasions. It was not before 1999 that the American got his hands on its silverware which was his only French Open title.
In the Open era, Mary Pierce has been the only French player to have won the Roland Garros title. Former World No.1 Amelie Mauresmo could not change the statistic as she failed to advance past the quarter final stage.