The biggest grand slam of the year, Wimbledon Open is the ultimate price in tennis. The drama, emotions, agony and royalty of England makes it the most estimable occasion of the year. The players have grown up dreaming of wining this prize and there is no wonder why every tennis player in the world wants this trophy to be an element of his/her drawing room as an accolade of his/her legacy. There have been gentlemen and ladies who have won this tournament repetitively many times and then there are many who have kept longing for this tournament for their entire careers. And in the process of players fighting their way to achieve this magnificent title the viewers get a chance to witness the historic matches time and again. As we all know that this championship has just started this year so it’s a good time that we relive the greatest matches that this competition has offered us in past.
1. Bjorn Borg VS John McEnroe – 1980
Bjorn Borg from Sweden was cool and composed character on the turf as well as outside. A living legend with charisma and versatility, had won Wimbledon for 5 consecutive times from 1976 to 1980. In 1980, his opponent had a contrasting volatile and flamboyant personality who was known for getting hyper in the game and he made the game look like a spicy recipe. In that era Borg was fighting to retain his supremacy in the world of tennis whereas McEnroe was trying to establish his own. Like many other intense rivalries, this game went to the wire. The highlight of this match was 4th set tie break which was the longest in the history of Wimbledon at that time, finishing at 18-16. Borg managed to retain the title eventually, but this game went down and ended with the score of 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 and 8-6.
2. Steffi Graf VS Martina Navratilova – 1989
The best part about Wimbledon is that it has witnessed great matches of men’s and women’s category in almost every era. The two icons of women tennis Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graff featured in this epic finale of 1989. Martina pushed the women’s tennis beyond the perceived limits of gender where as Steffi Graf was unremitting in her quest for excellence. Martina holds the record of most number of single titles and Graf has the honor of winning 22 grand slams, the most by any player. And whenever these two ladies came across each other, it was never short of block buster. It was breath taking display of tennis from both the women in pursuit of getting crowned as queen of Wimbledon. But it was Steffi who was able to get her name on the honors board of Wimbledon by beating her rival with 6-2, 6-7, 6-1.
3. Pete Sampras VS Andre Agassi – 1999
Pete Sampras is known for his legacy in the Wimbledon as he holds the record of 7 men’s singles Wimbledon titles. Whereas Andre Agassi was nothing short of a rock star in tennis as he was popular for his style and fashions. He was arguably the toughest competitor for Sampras in the 90s and both these gentlemen have locked horns against each other in various grand slam finals. 1999 was the year when these two dynamites fought for the biggest prize and every fan was equally excited as much as they were. The game didn’t go till the 5th set but it had all the ingredients required to make it a memorable contest. The agility, determination and enthusiasm displayed by these guys was absolutely matchless but the day belonged to Sampras and he was able to outplay his opponent with 6-4, 6-4 and 7-5.
4. Roger Federer VS Pete Sampras – 2001
At the time when Roger Federer was unknown product in the world of tennis, the arena belonged to this tennis machine from California called Pete Sampras, who had ruled the world of tennis in the last decade of 20th century. Known for his power shots and elegant combination of serve and volley, he won 14 grand slams which was the record at that time. In 2001 season, he came across a nineteen year old Roger Federer who was still trying to make his way into the elite panel of players. In that nerve rattling game, pendulum kept on swinging from one side to another.
The excitement was evident from the beginning and the very 1st set had to be decided in tie break. When Federer pulled out a stunner in the tie break, everyone felt that it was going to be something special. It turned out exactly that and after a game that took many turns and twists, Federer pulled out a miraculous victory in epic 5 set match to announce his arrival on the international tennis scene. The score line for Federer was 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 and 7-5.
5. Serena Williams VS Venus Williams – 2002
We all have played some sport or the other with our siblings in our backyards. But have you ever thought that you would be playing against your brother or sister to accomplish the biggest prize in sporting history. Well I guess the answer is obviously a big No! But these two sisters born and brought up in Michigan had their dreams fulfilled when both came across each other in the final of Wimbledon in 2002. Even though there have been many instances of Williams sisters going head to head in the final but the 1st one had always been a memorable one. There was no display of sibling affection on the court as both the girls played equally hard with determination to achieve the glory but as it turned out, Serena was better on the day and humbled her sister Venus, but Venus would have definitely said “until next time”.
6. Maria Sharapova VS Serena Williams – 2004
The 17 year old girl from Russia had taken everyone by surprise in 2004 when she reached the final of the Wimbledon in 2004. This was by no means a small achievement considering the grandeur of the championship and quality of tennis being played. Nothing was able to stop Maria Sharapova from reaching in the final but the biggest obstacle in her way and the ultimate glory was the world number 1 Serena Williams who was being considered too good for her prior to the match. But as it turned out, it happened to be the biggest upset in the history of women’s tennis as Sharapova stunned Serena with brutal and merciless display of tennis. Sharapova gave Serena no chance to stand in the way of her and the title. She took Serena to the cleaners with the final score line of 6-1 and 6-4.
7. Roger Federer VS Rafael Nadal – 2008
If I have to give my vote for the best tennis match; leave alone Wimbledon, I would have picked up this match hands down. No other game in tennis would have so much riding on it as this one had. It was the final match of 2008 championship between the two top ranked players of that time. Roger Federer was artistic and sublime with his moves and skills where as Rafael Nadal was determined and enthusiastic. Federer had defeated Nadal twice in the Wimbledon final on the previous two occasions. Nadal had been beating Federer on clay but wasn’t able to pull out a victory against Federer on grass court.
The onus was really on Federer to keep his winning run going in Wimbledon. More over his number 1 ranking was also on the line. The game was too close to call from the very beginning. Surprisingly Nadal made a dream start and punched the defending champion into oblivion by winning the first two sets by 6-4 and 6-4. But then there was an interruption because of rain which saved the champion form further punishment. The 3rd and 4th sets were absolutely mesmerizing for not only those watching it at centre court but also for the millions glued to the television. Both the sets ended up in tie brake and Federer held his nerve in both the tie brakes and proved why he was the best in the business. He had to survive the match point against Nadal in 4th set tie break to keep his chances alive.
Then came the final set and it was getting darker and darker at the centre court, plus the weather didn’t helped either. Both the tennis giants were playing their hearts out to clinch the title but eventually it was Nadal who was able to pull out a stunner and won the final set with 9-7 to win his first ever Wimbledon championship. The emotions on his face aptly described the magnitude of his achievement.
8. John Isner VS Nicolas Mahut – 2010
Another great feature of this game of tennis is that it doesn’t require two top seeded players to produce the high quality and dramatic affair. Even the lesser known commodity can come up with such breath taking display of tennis that it absolutely mesmerizes every one. So it happened in 2010 edition of the championship when these two gentlemen john Isner from USA and un-seeded Nicolas Mahut from France met each other. It was such a low profile match that it didn’t take place on the centre court rather court number 18 was specified for this exhibition. But later it turned out to be the match which will be written in the history books as the longest game of tennis ever played on the planet. The game started on 22 June and at 9:07 pm, play was suspended till next day due to fading light. The match couldn’t get completed on 23rd as well so it had to be suspended further with final set tied at 59 games each. Finally on 24th June, Isner won at 4:47 pm and the final set lasted for 8 hours and 11 minutes.
9. Roger Federer VS Andy Roddick – 2009
It’s the third time that Roger Federer is featuring in this list but we have to admit that this list can’t be completed without him featuring at least three times. In 2009 he was up against Andy Roddick of USA who is known for his bullet like serves. Roddick played his heart out in 2009 in front of the living legend Pete Sampras who was also present at the centre court. This match will be remembered for ever because it contained the longest 5th set in any Wimbledon final as none of them was able to brek each other’s serve. The 5th set ended at 16-14 and Federer won the title for 6th time.
10. Andy Murray Vs Novak Djokovic – 2013
No one from British had been able to grab the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936. The London crowd had been waiting for their countryman to win on their own turf for 77 years. And 2013 was the year when desires were to be fulfilled and the dream was to be realized as Andy Murray rose to the occasion. The number 2 seeded player was up against top seed Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray looked determined and focused right from the word go. With his blistering strokes and speedy serves, he made sure that his country men don’t have to live another day to see their own champion. He outplayed Novak Djokovic in straight sets with a score of 6-4, 7-5 and 6-4.