June 4, 1982: Mats Wilander shows great sportsmanship in Roland Garros SF



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June 4, 1982: Mats Wilander shows great sportsmanship in Roland Garros SF

Mats Wilander had started his professional career at the age of 15 in Bastad 1980, becoming one of 10 players who have managed to win an ATP match before turning 16 and a year later we found himself in the third round of Wimbledon and in his first ATP final.

Still 17, Mats had reached the semi-final in Rome in 1982 and he went to Roland Garros as one of the contenders for a deep run. His campaign in Paris could not have been better actually, beating the players like Ivan Lendl, Vitas Gerulaitis, Jose-Luis Clerc and Guillermo Vilas to lift his maiden Grand Slam trophy and his first ATP crown overall, something that seems like a mission impossible in today's tennis. The youngster needed four hours and 47 minutes to topple Vilas 1-6 7-6 6-0 6-4 in the title match and while that encounter deserves a special piece we should switch our focus on the semi-final clash against Jose-Luis Clerc that Mats won 7-5 6-2 1-6 7-5.

It was another grueling battle that lasted almost four hours and we saw a great sportsmanship from Wilander in one of the crucial moments of the match. He led 5-1 in the fourth set and wasted a match point in the following game when his forehand landed just outside the baseline, and Clerc managed to level the score at 5-5, looking good to send the match into a decider.

Mats held in game 11 to end the losing streak and the match was in his hands when Clerc's forehand was called out. The ball was actually good but the umpire Jacques Dorfman already went down from his chair as they didn't go and check marks back then.

Wilander made a great gesture, saying the ball was in and that he doesn't want to win the match that way, forcing the decision to replay the point. This time Clerc netted a backhand and he appreciated what the upcoming star just did, as there were no too many players that would do the same in the situation like that.

Dorfman also said that he had never known a gesture of sportsmanship like that and that he simply had to allow the point to be repeated as both players insisted on that. ALSO READ: ATP Roland Garros: Del Potro roars past John Isner to set Marin Cilic clash