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The enduring charm of Wimbledon and some of its epic encounters

Ask any tennis player in world as to which tournament they would love to win in their career ? The answer would definitely be Wimbledon. With so much aura and fame attached to the championships, this premier Grass court event has it’s own charm and appeal . It is this tournament where tradition is respected. Unlike other tournaments where flashy coloured clothing is allowed, in Wimbledon its white all the way. Along with the white dress code comes another norm, the delicacy of strawberry and cream.

All this makes this championships really special. And over the years the championships had the rare honour to witness epic encounters between players that are simply stuffs of legends.

Here one goes down the memory lane and takes a look at some of the scintillating matches on the famous centre court. The matches that are always remembered in the rich history of Wimbledon.

1980 – Men’s Singles Final : Bjorn Borg (Sweden) beat John McEnroe (US)
Score : 1-6, 7-5, 6-3,6-7 (16-18), 8-6
For the ice-cool Swede Bjorn Rune Borg it was his record fifth straight Wimbledon championship, 1980, it was termed as an all-time great final ever . Borg was stymied on five match points and saved six set points before warding off a stiff challenge from McEnroe. It was largely due to his famous resolve and iron determination that finally saw him win the title in the fifth set . Having ruled the centre court from 197-1980, the great Swede he was finally dethroned by McEnroe a year later in the 1981 final. The loss to the American left- hander ended Bjorn’s incredible year, 41-match Wimbledon run. Borg’s great run at Wimbledon has ensured his name as one of the greatest players ever to have played at Wimbledon and his stupendous career with 11 Grand slams meant that he is considered as one of the icons of the game .

 

1984 Men’s singles finals : John McEnroe ( US) beat Jimmy Connors ( US )

Score : 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

In one of the most devastating displays John McEnroe playing sublime tennis would do hardly any thing wrong in this all American finals. He made his compatriot Jimmy Connors look like a novice . McEnroe played like dream, he served brilliantly and volleyed like a genius at the net and hardly gave the fighter that Connors was known for simply no chance to settle down. Not only did McEnroe win here thrice in his legendary career, but the temperamental American left – hander was one of the crowd favourite .

People loved his mannerisms and referees were always on the edge of their seat when the big Mac took the court as he would often give them a stare after in the vent of a close line- call. All this characteristics made John McEnroe a legend and this demolition of Connors is termed one of the most ruthless wins by any player in the finals of Wimbledon .

 

1985 Men’s singles finals : Boris Becker beat Kevin Curren

Score : 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.

 A history was created on the centre court when an unknown and unseeded 17 year –old sensation from West Germany Boris Becker stunned the tennis world by winning the title. Becoming the first unseeded and the youngest ever men’s champion. Not many had expected him to win since his rival in the final South African born American Kevin Curren had in the semis- done some thing unthinkable- upsetting the great John McEnroe. But the young German was now overawed by the occasion. Playing tennis like as if his life depended on it he stunned Curren with  his awesome display of power tennis. He served powerfully and made some astonishing diving volleys at the net. A sight never seen before at Wimbledon.

He won here thrice and having played in seven finals  he was beyond doubt one of the favourites.  Besides his powerful game , Becker was one of the game’s biggest characters and  it is to his stunning win that had put his country in the tennis map , which till his Wimbledon triumph in 1985 was known for its prowess in football.

 

1988 : Steffi Graf beat Martina Navratilova : 5-7, 6-2, 6-1

If Boris Becker was the role model for the men’s tennis in Germany, then his country woman Steffi Graf was the one among the women. Having lost to the legendary American Martina navratilova in the finals in 1987 , the 18- year old German was determined to avenge her loss. Moreover, Steffi Graf before coming into the Championships was in supreme form. She had already won the Australian and the French Open emphatically. The 5ft9 inch athletic German was simply demolishing her rivals with her big serve and her absolutely lethal powerful forehand . In the finals too, in the beginning it looked as if  Martina’s experience would once again prevail  as she had won the first set. But the German,  came back strongly and covering the court with amazing speed and athleticism powered to win the title by claiming the next two sets. Martina’s long reign as the master on grass was ended by this powerful German . For Graf would win this famous championships seven times in her great career but it was her win over Martina that signalled that the American domination was truly over and the world tennis had a seen the arrival of new tennis queen.

 

1992 Men’s  singles finals : Andre Agassi  beat Goran Ivanisevic 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4

 For Andre Agassi the win at Wimbledon ended that jinx that he did not have it him to win the big events. In the finals he overcame the big- serving Goran Ivanisevic in a classic five set encounter. Te match was marked by Ivanesivic’s trademark big serves and Agassi’s strong baseline game and his ability to hit winners  from the back of the court.  Ivanesivic had in the tournament knocked out his rivals with his unplayable big serves. For Agassi considered to be the best returner of the serve in the game, it was an uphill task . And Agassi managed to hold on to the Goran’s onslaught and survived 37 aces to win a  fairy tale triumph.

 

2000: Men’s Singles finals : Pete Sampras beat Patrick Rafter

Score : 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2

American tennis great Pete Sampras etched his name in history by his win over Australian serve and volleyer Pat Rafter . It enabled him to win his  seventh Wimbledon title and more importantly win a  record-breaking 13th Grand Slam championship. “Pistol Pete” as Sampras was fondly called served 27 aces and whipped 13 passing shot winners to beat Rafter 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2 in a rain-delayed match that ended at dusk. The score-line was much closer then it was finally. The match produced scintillating tennis from both men. Both players delighted the crowd with their court coverage , serve and dazzling volleys at the net . Rafter played brilliantly but unfortunately could not break the Sampras serve on numerous occasions. The American used his clever variation in his first and second serve to thwart the Australian’s hopes . It was this inability to break the Sampras serve that cost Rafter the match.

 

2008 : Men’s singles finals : Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer

Score : 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7

This Federer-Nadal meeting on the famous grass courts at Wimbledon had it all. Federer was chasing a sixth consecutive Wimbledon title while Nadal was trying to emulate Bjorn Borg’s French Open-Wimbledon double in 1980.

Nadal made the better start and won the first two sets before rain intervened. The 80-minute stoppage disrupted the Spaniard’s momentum as Federer came roaring back to win the third and fourth sets.

Federer was within two points of victory in the decider, but Nadal held his nerve to prevail 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 in the London darkness. After the match, tennis legend John McEnroe was quoted as saying: “This is the greatest match I’ve ever seen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Score : 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.

A history was created on the centre court when an unknown and unseeded 17 year –old sensation from West Germany Boris Becker stunned the tennis world by winning the title. Becoming the first unseeded and the youngest ever men’s champion. Not many had expected him to win since his rival in the final South African born American Kevin Curren had in the semis- done some thing unthinkable- upsetting the great John McEnroe. But the young German was now overawed by the occasion. Playing tennis like as if his life depended on it he stunned Curren with his awesome display of power tennis. He served powerfully and made some astonishing diving volleys at the net. A sight never seen before at Wimbledon. He won here thrice and having played in seven finals he was beyond doubt one of the favourites. Besides his powerful game , Becker was one of the game’s biggest characters and it is to his stunning win that had put his country in the tennis map , which till his Wimbledon triumph in 1985 was known for its prowess in football.

1988 : Steffi Graf beat Martina Navratilova : 5-7, 6-2, 6-1

If Boris Becker was the role model for the men’s tennis in Germany, then his country woman Steffi Graf was the one among the women. Having lost to the legendary American Martina navratilova in the finals in 1987 , the 18- year old German was determined to avenge her loss. Moreover, Steffi Graf before coming into the Championships was in supreme form. She had already won the Australian and the French Open emphatically. The 5ft9 inch athletic German was simply demolishing her rivals with her big serve and her absolutely lethal powerful forehand . In the finals too, in the beginning it looked as if Martina’s experience would once again prevail as she had won the first set. But the German, came back strongly and covering the court with amazing speed and athleticism powered to win the title by claiming the next two sets. Martina’s long reign as the master on grass was ended by this powerful German . For Graf would win this famous championships seven times in her great career but it was her win over Martina that signalled that the American domination was truly over and the world tennis had a seen the arrival of new tennis queen.

1992 Men’s singles finals : Andre Agassi beat Goran Ivanisevic 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4

For Andre Agassi the win at Wimbledon ended that jinx that he did not have it him to win the big events. In the finals he overcame the big- serving Goran Ivanisevic in a classic five set encounter. Te match was marked by Ivanesivic’s trademark big serves and Agassi’s strong baseline game and his ability to hit winners from the back of the court. Ivanesivic had in the tournament knocked out his rivals with his unplayable big serves. For Agassi considered to be the best returner of the serve in the game, it was an uphill task . And Agassi managed to hold on to the Goran’s onslaught and survived 37 aces to win a fairy tale triumph.

2000: Men’s Singles finals : Pete Sampras beat Patrick Rafter
Score : 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2
American tennis great Pete Sampras etched his name in history by his win over Australian serve and volleyer Pat Rafter . It enabled him to win his seventh Wimbledon title and more importantly win a record-breaking 13th Grand Slam championship. “Pistol Pete” as Sampras was fondly called served 27 aces and whipped 13 passing shot winners to beat Rafter 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2 in a rain-delayed match that ended at dusk. The score-line was much closer then it was finally. The match produced scintillating tennis from both men. Both players delighted the crowd with their court coverage , serve and dazzling volleys at the net . Rafter played brilliantly but unfortunately could not break the Sampras serve on numerous occasions. The American used his clever variation in his first and second serve to thwart the Australian’s hopes . It was this inability to break the Sampras serve that cost Rafter the match.

About ARIJEET DUTTA

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