On This Day

  • June 5 down the years

Sobbing Hingis cracks

Martin Hingis was distraught after losing to Steffi Graf © Getty Images
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1999
Steffi Graf had enough left in the tank to win a Grand Slam singles title for the last time at the French Open. It was her 22nd, which would be the all-time record if Margaret Court hadn't won the Australian 11 times. To take her sixth French title, Graf had to win the Final against 18-year-old Martina Hingis, who'd already won five Grand Slam singles and looked likely to be the new Graf. Hingis won the first set, but then she was upset by a bad line call which led to her being docked a point. She lost the second set 7-5 and cracked in the third, losing it 6-2 and serving underarm on both of Graf's match points. Hingis walked off before the awards ceremony, and she was sobbing when her mother brought her back. The French was the only Grand Slam singles title she never won.

This was a big day for French Open tennis Finals in general. In 1983, Yannick Noah became the first Frenchman to win the singles since 1946. In the Final, his net play overcame defending champion Mats Wilander, who was still only 18. The last two sets were close, including a tie-break, but Noah won all three.

Spain won both singles titles in 1994. They even had two players in the men's Final. Sergi Bruguera retained the title by beating Alberto Berasategui in four sets, the last 6-1. In the women's Final, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario beat France's darling Mary Pierce in straight sets.

Meanwhile, in 2010, Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian female to win a grand slam by claiming the French Open, just a couple of weeks before her 30th birthday. She beat Australia's Sam Stosur in straight sets.

1931
The last golfer born in Scotland to win the British Open until July 18, 1999. He won it in Scotland, too - by coincidence, at Carnoustie, where it was also held in 1999. Tommy Armour had to overcome a few handicaps to get here. Like having only one eye and only one good arm! Blinded by mustard gas in the First World War, he also had metal plates inserted in his head and his left arm. So he adapted his swing and won three Majors! He was the reigning US PGA champion when he got to Carnoustie. In the final round, he played a superb back nine into the wind - but it was an Open lost, not won. José Jurado was five shots ahead before the afternoon's play, but he'd made an 80 when he was leading three years earlier, and now he hit 6s at the 14th (a hole with no bunkers) and the 17th, when he put his tee shot into the Burn and bunkered his third. He missed an eight-foot putt at the last to give Armour the title by one stroke.

1966
Britain's No.1 tennis player Ann Jones won the French Open for the second time. When she won it in 1961 (27 May ), it was her first Grand Slam singles title. She lost the Final in 1963, but came into the 1966 event having won the Italian Open. Her opponent in the Final, America's Nancy Richey, had won her semi-final by outgunning the hulking Australian Margaret Smith from the baseline - but the left-handed Jones was too consistent and determined today. Story of her career. She won the opening game of the match after 12 deuces, and the rest was processional. In fact, from 4-2 up in the first, she lost only two more games, winning 6-3 6-1.

Here in 1966, another left-hander won the men's singles. Australia's Tony Roche had lost in the Final the year before, but now, like Jones, he'd won in Rome. He was allowed an extra day's rest to recover from a twisted ankle, and although it still bothered him when he tried to turn, he had too much class for the hard-working but rather ordinary Hungarian István Gulyás. Coming to the net on the slow clay, Roche won the first set easily then hung on during the next two. He lost in the Final again the following year.

1999
The biggest comeback in international rugby union. In Buenos Aires, Wales overcame a 23-0 deficit to win 36-26. Argentina scored two tries, including one by fly-half Gonzalo Quesada, who also kicked 16 points - but Wales pulled 10 back before half-time, and their own outside-half Neil Jenkins, in his first game for six weeks after a shoulder operation, contributed 18 points. Two scores came from New Zealanders - a try by Brett Sinkinson, a drop goal by Shane Howarth - who were later banned from playing for Wales after the 'Grannygate' investigation on March 12, 2000.

Neil Jenkins contributed 18 points against Argentina © Getty Images
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1902
Sandy Herd was a Scottish golfer who was runner-up at the British Open three times spread over 25 years: 1895, 1910, 1920. But today he won it for the first and only time - with a little technical help: the first player to win the Open using a golf ball with a rubber centre. He finished one shot ahead of two members of the Great Triumvirate, Harry Vardon and Jimmy Braid, who were still using a gutta-percha. Braid pulled back seven shots on the last round, but Herd was able to hit an 81 and still win.

1973
Ilie Năstase was destined to win the French Open. Brought up on clay in Romania, he reached the Wimbledon Final on grass and won the US Open on the same cow food. But the French was the one he wanted more than any other. In 1971 he lost the Final to Jan Kodeš, who ruled Paris at the time. Now Nasty was there again - and couldn't believe how easy it was when he got there. Năstase was the best player in the world at the time. The reigning US Open champion, he later won the Italian Open on clay. He may even have expected to beat Nikki Pilić in straight sets - but not by a score like this. He lost the first three games but still won the first set 6-3 in 33 minutes. He lost serve in the opening game of the second, but won that 6-3 too, then the third 6-0. He took the title without losing a set and received the trophy from the great Henri Cochet, who won the title five times.

Talking of Cochet, he played a decisive part in the French Final of 1927 - even though he didn't play. This was Bill Tilden's big chance of winning the event. It hadn't been open to foreign players until 1925, when he was already 32. Here in 1927, he destroyed Henri Cochet in the semi-finals, After a first set that went to 9-7 before Tilden won it, his instant decision making and precision gave him the next two 6-3 6-2. Cochet, genius though he was, had no answer.

In the Final, Big Bill faced little René Lacoste, who'd won an easy semi-final against the very ordinary South African Pat Spence. Lacoste liked to think of himself as a crocodile (hence the badge on his sportswear), but he was more of a ferret, a small slim man who gnawed away at you with his groundstrokes and intellect. He learned enough from Tilden himself to win Wimbledon and the US Championships twice each and the French three times, including today - although really he lost the match. Twice. It was played in crushing heat, which should have affected Tilden, who was 34 by then and had a chronic knee problem (as well part of a finger missing from his racquet hand!). But it was the 22-year-old Lacoste who suffered cramps after the third set. He wanted to default, but Tilden gave him half an hour to recover. The ferret promptly won the fourth set, and the fifth was an epic. At 9-8, Big Bill served for the title. All afternoon, under that sun, he'd been firing his famous cannonball serves, and here came another one. Lacoste could only nod in admiration. But as they came to the net to shake hands, the linesman suddenly called the service long. The linesman was Henri Cochet! There was no question of any wrongdoing: the serve was so fast 'it took the line with it.' A deflated Tilden lost the set 11-9. He was 37 when he reached the Final again on June, 1 1930, only to find Cochet in the way again.

1925
Bobby Jones was the king of golf in the 1920s. Among other things, he won the US Open four times. But not today. Having won it in 1923 and finished second in 1924, he was runner-up again today. He gained four shots on Willie MacFarlane in the last round, enough to force a play-off, which was over the full 18 holes. They finished level in that - so they had to do it all again! This time it was MacFarlane who came through from four behind, winning the marathon by a single stroke. Born in Aberdeen, he shot a new US Open record 67 in the second round.

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