Image 1 – The 1980 Wimbledon and US Open tournaments
What – In 1980, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe were in the form of their lives. Borg took Wimbledon in five grueling sets while McEnroe did the same at the US Open.
Why – Bjorn Borg was undoubtedly the master of Wimbledon. McEnroe came incredibly close in the 1980 final, but Borg eventually defeated him 1–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–7(16–18), 8–6. The fourth set tiebreak is still regarded as the greatest half-hour in tennis. The match itself is considered an all-time classic. McEnroe wanted revenge, and that is what he got with a 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4 win in the US Open finals the same year.
Though Borg mastered the grass of England and clay of France, the US Open title eluded him. Over the course of his career, he was defeated, not once or twice, but four times in the finals of the US Open. The very next year after these epic battles, Borg again lost in the US Open final to McEnroe and left the arena without talking to the press. The game virtually ended his career at the age of 26.
Image 2 – John Isner and Nicholas Mahut play the longest match in the history of Tennis
What – 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days. 183 games. 216 aces. Enough said.
Why – No, this was not a Grand Slam final; on the contrary, it was a first round match. After playing for 11 hours, if either of the players had won the match, he would have gone on to lose in the next round out of sheer exhaustion. So, why?
Why did Mahut and Isner give every single ounce of energy they had in them to win a first round match? Because that is what tennis is all about. The match reminded the world what a gladiator-like sport tennis is; the match reminded the world how tough tennis players are. The match reminded the world that there are no losers is sports.
Image 3 – Federer wins his first French Open
What – Roger Federer, arguably the greatest player to have ever swung the tennis racket, wins his first French Open after 3 defeats in the finals.
Why – To state how brilliant a player Federer is would be stating the obvious. But if he hadn’t won this game, people would have, to this day, been pointing out the glaring hole in his resume. Now Federer was not bad on clay. He was good, but the fact that there was another man who was not just good, but great, on this surface made Federer’s life really tough. When Robin Soderling pulled off the upset of the decade by defeating Rafael Nadal in the 2009 French Open, Federer must have let out a sigh of relief.
Remember what happened to Borg after his 4th final defeat in the US Open? If he had lost, this would have been Federer’s 4th defeat in the French final. Instead, by winning the title, Federer tied Pete Sampras for the most number of major trophies at 14 and later went on to break the record a few weeks later in Wimbledon. Most importantly, Federer got the monkey off his back.
Image 4 – Novak Djokovic rips off his shirt after the 2012 Australian Open
What – Novak Djokovic wins the longest Grand Slam final of all time. He is full of raw emotions and he rips off his shirt like a crazy boxer.
Why – When Djokovic and Nadal walked into the Rod Laver Arena at 7.00 pm Sunday night, they would have never thought that they would be playing there till 2.00 am. After 5 hours and 53 minutes, Djokovic defeated Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5. In the presentation ceremony, both players couldn’t stand – Nadal leaned against the net and Djokovic tried to sit on the floor, prompting the organizers to bring them chairs.
The match was not beautiful, it was intense. The baseline rallies, the shots and the reach of the players was amazing. After the game ended, we wondered whether we had just seen a heavyweight boxing match.
Human will power is truly amazing!
Image 5 – Rafael Nadal wins the 2008 Wimbledon in near darkness
What – In what turned out to be the greatest Grand Slam final of the modern era, Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer to win the 2008 Wimbledon trophy.
Why – No man had defeated Federer at the All-England Club for five long years, but when the man hit a short forehand to the net, the record was broken. As the camera lights flashed on to the face of Rafael Nadal in near darkness, the tennis world saw a new champion. The scorecard read 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7 but believe it or not, the match was much closer than what the scorecard suggests.
There were two rain delays which played a crucial part in directing the momentum of this game. Federer came back from the death to win two tie-breakers. After all was done, the time was 9.30 pm. England went into a frenzy and so did the world.