Aussies at Roland Garros – The Woodies 2000
As we count down to French Open 2012, tennis.com.au will feature some of the best Australian achievements at Roland Garros.
As we count down to French Open 2012, tennis.com.au will feature some of the best Australian achievements at Roland Garros. The highlights will be revealed in chronological order and when all 20 have been named, you get the chance to vote for your No.1 achievement.
They’d won a record-equalling 57 titles and nine majors together, but the one piece of silverware missing from Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde’s collection was the Roland Garros doubles title.
Semifinalists in 1993 and 1996, and finalists in 1997, racking up six wins on the Paris clay was proving to be the Woodies’ white whale.
The pair came close to bailing in the quarterfinals in 2000, falling behind a set to Jiri Novak and David Riki. The Woodies snatched a tight second-set tiebreak to keep their dream alive and won the third set easily for a 3-6 7-6(6) 6-1 win.
A straight sets win over Jaime Oncins and Daniel Orsanic in the semis followed to set up a final against countryman Sandon Stolle and Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands.
With Woodforde having already decided to walk away from tennis at the end of the season, this would be their last chance to complete a deserved career Grand Slam. More driven than ever before, the Woodies prevailed in a close straight-sets match, 7-6(7) 6-4.
After joining forces in 1991 the pair forged one of the great doubles duos, dominating the 1990s with their instinctive play and tricky lefty–righty combination.
“We lost badly in the first match we ever played,” recalled Woodforde in 1996. “But the second one, we had a pretty good result and we, you know, our coach [Ray Ruffels] and the trainer [Mark Waters] sort of convinced us that perhaps there was a future together.”
They were right.
The dynamic duo finished with 61 titles together, 11 of them majors, before Woodforde retired at the end of the 2000 season. As well as a truckload of trophies, the pair finished atop the year-end rankings on five occasions, 1992, 1995–1997 and 2000, and won Olympic gold at Atlanta and silver at Sydney. They are also Australia’s most successful Davis Cup duo, beaten just twice in 16 ties.
The Woodies were the most successful doubles pair ever until 2010 when the Bryan brothers overtook them.
“It’s like a marriage,” said Woodforde. “You learn how to co-exist on and off the court. I think we got the best out of each other.”
“It’s one word,” Woodbridge explained. “Communication. Anytime Mark and I held something in and didn’t let each other know how we felt, we never played well together. We knew what we were doing was like a business and we had to be professional. We had our moments when we hacked each other off and would have liked to have gone another way. But we realised we had something that was too good.”
After Woodforde’s retirement at the end of 2000, Woodbridge continued to play with Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman and finished his career with 83 doubles titles – still a record.
Together, Woodbridge and Bjorkman won five majors including one each at the Australian and US Opens, and three Wimbledon championships. The only major they didn’t win together was the French Open, thus denying Woodbridge a second career Grand Slam.
Aussies at Roland Garros – the complete list to date
2000 The Woodies win on clay to complete their career Grand Slam