Tennis: 40 years ago, Yannick Noah won Roland-Garros | TV5MONDE

A forehand that comes out, the Central public who let their joy burst and his father who runs to take him in his arms: forty years ago, Yannick Noah won Roland-Garros, signing one of the most resounding victories in sport French which has not been reissued since for men.

On June 5, 1983, Noah won at the age of 23 the trophy that every French tennis player covets, by dominating the Swedish Mats Wilander 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3), defending champion, finally succeeding Marcel Bernard (1946).

“It was my hour of glory. It was my home. Everywhere in the stands there were my friends, my family, the weather was nice, I was a boarder in this stadium, I slept in this stadium for a year when I was 16-17 years old, I dreamed of this place, of this match, remembers the former player in an interview with AFP This tournament was everything for me and I won it. . It was just perfect.”

The ideal conclusion to a successful fortnight, in particular thanks to an awareness two months earlier at the Monte-Carlo tournament.

“He had done anything, says his coach at the time, Patrice Hagelauer. He had left the day before a match and, the next day, we had had explanations. There was a radical change of state spirit at Yannick and it immediately paid off.”

After the click, the good results are linked: final in Lisbon, victory in Madrid then in Hamburg, where he beats Wilander, in the quarters.

“Very physical preparation”

To maintain this good dynamic, the player and his coach agree to carry out a “very focused on the physical” preparation to best support his attacking game. “He was the best athlete on the circuit, so you had to play this card thoroughly,” insists Hagelauer.

Four to five hours of training in the morning then another two in the afternoon followed by three quarters of an hour of racing, all away from the bustle of Paris. “Yannick was the only Métis player, there were his dreadlocks, the character he represented, recalls the coach. He had a lot of requests, so we agreed to stand aside.”

Isolated in a small club in Seine-et-Marne during his preparation, Noah also spent as little time as possible at Porte d’Auteuil during the fortnight.

His start to the tournament is going smoothly. Without losing a single set, the native of Sedan reached the quarter-finals where Ivan Lendl, world No. 3, awaited him. At the end of a first set won in the tie-break, Noah seems to be flying towards victory: after pocketing the second set 6-2, he gets two match points in the third, which he does not manage to convert.

Lendl rebels, wins the third set (7-5) and the risk of a reversal of the situation threatens dangerously. It is not so, Noah sends the third round (6-0).

He knows his little hitch there by losing his only set of the tournament. But not his first concern, which comes before this meeting, suffering from back pain. Fortunately, an appointment with Professor Maigne, “French authority on back problems”, according to Hagelauer, makes this evil disappear. “It was the only moment when, physically, I had a little scare,” admits the coach.

“The Dream of the Family”

While a duel against world No. 1 Jimmy Connors was to be held in the half, the Frenchman Christophe Roger-Vasselin achieved the feat of beating the American, and faced Noah for a place in the final, which “takes away a thorn in the side,” admits Hagelauer.

Roger-Vasselin does not exist in this match (6-3, 6-0, 6-0). Noah is only one step away from the coronation that an entire nation hopes for. Far from being taken by his emotions, he dominates his subject, as often in the final, “where there is a bit of madness, something that transcends him”, remembers his coach.

The Center court is full for this match between two young champions loved by the public. “We couldn’t see the stairs anymore, it was absolutely incredible,” breathes Hagelauer. This time, Noah doesn’t flinch when he gets match points. He serves hard on Wilander’s forehand, whose return comes out long, then kneels with his arms in the air.

Seconds that followed this coronation, it is undoubtedly the hug with his father, Zacharie, who remained in the memories. “This adventure ends with the dream of the family, the dream of Yannick”, underlines the trainer.

“I hope that behind it will follow, it will give ambition to many young people (…) we can also win”, said Noah after his victory. He did have descendants: Mary Pierce at the Australian Open (1995) then Roland-Garros (2000), Amélie Mauresmo at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon (2006), and Marion Bartoli on the London lawn. (2013), but no man has succeeded him at Porte d’Auteuil, or even in the other Grand Slams.

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