Roland Garros

20 years after a title scored by U2, Davín remembers Gaudio’s feat at Roland Garros

The Argentine coach talks about the feat of his then pupil in Paris

June 06, 2024

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Gastón Gaudio was trained by Franco Davín when he won Roland Garros 2004.
By Juan Ramírez Carvajal

The daily routine that had secured him a place in the biggest game of his career was suddenly threatened. Gastón Gaudio, then world No. 44, had defeated his compatriot David Nalbandian in the semifinals of Roland Garros 2004, and from there everything became chaos for the Argentine tennis player. Also for the team that accompanied him, led by his coach Franco Davín.

“More than twenty people were going to come to the final, including family and friends, and we had a discussion with Gastón. The idea was that no one came because that was going to take us out of focus,” Davin remembers in a conversation with “It seemed important to us to maintain the calm that we had been having so that he felt safe before such a big game.”

Was he going to fulfill his dream of playing in a Grand Slam final in his favorite tournament without his parents or his two brothers in the stands? Would none of those who motivated his path there accompany him to seek the most important title for Argentine tennis in 25 years?

“For example, thinking about dinner, if everyone came we would have to reserve for more people and that could cause the food to be delayed or we could no longer dine where we wanted. And those details that can be seen as small take away your concentration from matches as important as the one Gastón was going to have. It was better to keep the same structure,” adds Davín, former world No. 30 in 1990.

Franco Davin

Franco Davín during the Miami Open 2024.

They had already been quite overwhelmed by all the attention Gaudio had received after becoming Guillermo Coria’s rival in the tournament final. Davín remembers at least 50 journalists outside his accommodation, the Hotel California, waiting for the surprise debutant in a Grand Slam final.

“And we were accustomed during the days before to no one being there when we left the hotel. But after she won the semi-finals everything was very stressful. There was a lot of commotion and commotion. That was difficult for Gastón on the emotional side,” explains Davin, accompanied at that event by the physical trainer Federico Aguírrez and a friend of Gaudio.

They had undergone enough changes in their daily lives in Paris – now full of interviews and the greatest attention they had ever had in their lives – to receive more people for the final. So they decided to prevent friends and family from traveling, isolate themselves and maintain the habits that had taken them this far.

From playing backgammon in free time and insomnia to listening to U2 before each game – especially ‘Where the streets have no name’ -. “U2 songs made him jump onto the dance floor,” Davín recalls.

Not counting the dinners every night at ‘Le Carpaccio’, where they ordered penne all’arrabbiata or pizza with a fried egg in the middle; or silent walks through Paris to combat anxiety; or the hours of abstraction in the tournament locker room, where Gaudio mainly spent his time watching television.

Even maintaining the routines of the last 15 days, it was difficult for Gaudio to control his nerves before the final. “Coria seemed unbeatable. He was a very favorite before the tournament. And Gaudio, no. Many times that plays into the moment when you are going to play a game of that type. Furthermore, Coria wins an impeccable first set, without errors,” adds Davín about that final, which is still the only one between Argentines in Grand Slams.

Coria, 22, seemed destined to be the first Argentine since Guillermo Vilas in 1977 to win Roland Garros. And, in addition to being world No. 3, he had been a semi-finalist in the tournament the previous year (l. to Verkerk). While Gaudio, then 25 years old, had never played in a Grand Slam quarterfinal before that event in which he was not even seeded. The difference in contexts between the two seemed to explain Coria’s 2-0 advantage in sets in the definition of that edition in Paris.

But Gaudio, who was aiming for his third ATP title and first since Mallorca 2002, still had a lot to say. “He is a player with a lot of character, a lot of self-love, and he knew how to turn that game around. Losing it would have also been a great tournament. He could have settled. He didn’t do it and that saved him. Furthermore, the following year he won five tournaments, played the Masters [hoy Nitto ATP Finals]he was No. 5 in the world and confirmed that what he did at Roland Garros was not a coincidence,” Davín reflects.

That Sunday, June 6, 2024, his pupil forced a fifth in which he went from 1-3 to 4-4, and in which he saw how Coria had two match points, serving for the championship at 6-5. Gaudio could do everything. After three hours and 31 minutes, he won 0-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 8-6. He threw the racket that ended up in one of the pits, looked at his excited team in the stands and ran to hug them. Minutes later he lifted the most important trophy of his career.

Gaudio Roland Garros 2004

“Mommy, daddy, I love you!” Gaudio said at the awards ceremony, before tears interrupted his speech. “They are not here because I said not to come for cabala, but they are in my heart, I love them.”

Protecting routines and isolating himself, even if it brought with it the pain of missing his loved ones at the time of his greatest achievement as a tennis player, had borne fruit. He also did not lack affection when it came to celebrating. His coach Franco, his physical trainer Federico and his friend Martín celebrated the result as their own.

“It was a very special game for Gastón, obviously, but for me too. Each game told a different story,” Davín points out. “I still have a great relationship with Gastón. And it is not necessary for the anniversary of the game to arrive for us to remember.”

Did you know…?
Only nine players outside the Big-4 (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) have won at least one Grand Slam title from 2004 to date. Two of them are Argentine and were trained at the time by Franco Davín: Gastón Gaudio (Roland Garros 2004) and Juan Martín del Potro (US Open 2009).


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