At the request of Monsieur Wilander
1982 French Open semi-final: Mats Wilander vs José-Luis Clerc
The semi-final against the Argentinian José-Luis Clerc was to go down in tennis history. Not because it was such a good match – but for its dramatic dénouement. At 6-5 and 40-30 in the fourth set Mats stood at match point. Clerc smacked a forehand that looked as if it hit the middle of the sideline. The line judge called the ball out. The umpire Jacques Dorfmann’s voice resounded over the capacity crowd in the centre court at Roland Garros:
“Game, set and match, Wilander.”
Clerc protested furiously. Mats stood there, bewildered, and Dorfmann climbed down from his chair, while the public performed a gigantic and unanimous whistling concert. When he reached the mark on the court, Dorfmann was confronted by an extremely unhappy Wilander:
“We must replay the point. I thought the ball was all right and I do not want to win the match in this way.”
The French umpire climbed up again. He took hold of the microphone and announced:
“At the request of Monsieur Wilander the point will be replayed.”
This phrase became itself a classic and has been associated with Mats Wilander throughout his career as a kind of symbol of the Swede’s sportsmanship. With the next match point Mats took his opportunity, and a place in the final was definitely his. The sequel to the match was hardly about the tournament at all.
The newsmen in the international media devoted about 90 percent of their space just to the theme of the remarkable Swede who asked if a point he had just won could be replayed. As everyone knew, this was not exactly a “friendly”, either, but a semi-final in the world’s greatest clay-court tournament where money in thousands lay on the line!
Extract from Mats Wilander and the Game Behind the Headlines