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Wimbledon: Top 10 Men's finals of Open era (article)

Eden
06-23-2008, 08:38 PM
Wimbledon: Top 10 Men's finals of Open era
By Les Roopanarine

20/06/2008


Forty years ago the Open era began in 1968, and since then there have been 18 different champions. We take a look back at ten of the best Men's finals in the intervening period.


1. Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe (1980) 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals1.jpg
The Ice-Man reigneth

Great rivalries thrive on contrasts, and this clash of mighty opposites - of ice-cool Swede and fiery New Yorker, imperturbable four-times champion and volatile challenger - was steeped in them. McEnroe had the initial momentum, but failed to consolidate his early dominance and was slowly, inexorably hauled back. At 5-4, 40-15 in the fourth set, Borg held two championship points. McEnroe saved both, forcing a genre-defining tie-break in which, from 5-5 onwards, every other point was either a match point or a set point. McEnroe eventually sealed it 18-16, but Borg, serving with majestic authority, climbed a mental Everest to win the final set and claim his fifth consecutive title. Unforgettable.


2. Goran Ivanisevic beat Pat Rafter (2001) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals2.jpg
Goran's miracle moment

As the first final in history to begin on the third Monday and the last-chance saloon for two former finalists soon to be forced into retirement by shoulder injuries, this had the makings of a classic from the outset. With the match held over by rain, 13,370 spectators paid at the gate, their unrestrained passion generating a tumultuous clamour that was mirrored on the court by some fearsome attacking tennis. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when Ivanisevic - ranked 125, pushing 30 and three times previously a faller at the final hurdle - became the first wild-card entrant in history to lift the trophy. "I'll remember this day forever," blubbed the Croatian. So will we.


3. John McEnroe beat Jimmy Connors (1984) 6-1, 6-1, 6-2

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals3.jpg
Magic McEnroe

McEnroe's rage for perfection frequently brought him into vociferous conflict with Wimbledon officialdom, but on this occasion he silenced everybody - including the normally loquacious Connors - with a performance of flawless virtuosity. Against the best returner in the business, McEnroe conceded just 11 points in as many service games, sweeping to the most one-sided victory since 1938, when Don Budge routed Bunny Austin 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 en route to the first ever Grand Slam. For some, there was a faint whiff of schadenfreude; a decade earlier, Connors had swept aside Ken Rosewall in similarly ruthless fashion.


4. Andre Agassi beat Goran Ivanisevic (1992) 6-7 (8-10), 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals4.jpg
Agassi's brilliance

After a decade of domination by serve-volleyers, even the most optimistic gambler in Agassi's home town would have thought twice before backing the Las Vegan to make his Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon. His baseline game seemed as unsuited to the slick lawns of the All England Club as his long hair and fluorescent attire. Yet Agassi, clad in pristine white, beat Boris Becker and John McEnroe before staging a return-of-serve master class against Ivanisevic to remind us that Wimbledon could still be won from the baseline. Another decade would pass before Lleyton Hewitt repeated the feat.


5. Arthur Ashe beat Jimmy Connors (1975) 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals5.jpg
Ashe outwits Connors

Probably the most cerebral final in Wimbledon history. Connors came into the tournament as the world No 1, defending champion and overwhelming favourite. He had beaten Ashe in each of their previous three meetings, had not dropped a set en route to the final, and warmed up by way of a light-hearted hit with Ilie Nastase. Ashe's meticulously conceived, flawlessly executed strategy left him with a rather sterner countenance. By taking the weight off his own shots, Ashe nullified his opponent's power; by slicing low to the forehand, he exposed an inherent flaw in Connors' technique. Tactical perfection.


6. Boris Becker beat Kevin Curren (1985) 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals6.jpg
Boris' big moment

When Johan Kriek tipped Becker as a contender for the Wimbledon title, at the time most of us put it down to the fact that he had just been trounced by the teenager in the final of Queen's. Big mistake. Three weeks later, after a sustained blitzkrieg of booming serves, diving volleys and thunderous returns – not to mention a gutsy fourth-round comeback from match point down against Tim Mayotte – Becker had comprehensively rewritten the record books. Wimbledon's first German and only unseeded champion was also, at 17 years, 227 days, its youngest.


7. Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi (1999) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals7.jpg
The best a man can get

When a player with a record 14 Grand Slam titles, including seven at Wimbledon, identifies a performance as possibly the best of his career, it pays to take heed. While Agassi arrived in SW19 with confidence buoyed after completing a career Grand Slam at the French Open, Sampras, his best days seemingly behind him, had made an indifferent start to the year. It mattered not. Sampras produced a superlative exhibition of grass-court tennis that at times reduced his fellow American to the role of helpless spectator. "Today he walked on water," said Agassi. Few would disagree with his assessment.


8. Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal (2007) 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 6-2

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals8.jpg
Federer equals Borg

With Bjorn Borg's modern record of five consecutive titles beckoning and the Swede looking on from the front row of the Royal Box, Federer had more to contend with than the unrelenting brilliance of Nadal. The cumulative burden weighed heavily on the Swiss, who was uncharacteristically tetchy at times as he was extended to a fifth set for the first time in a Wimbledon final. Federer survived the sternest examination of his reign to take his appointed place in history. Victory for the Swiss this year would equal the all-time record set by William Renshaw in the 1880s, when the holder went straight into the final.


9. Stefan Edberg beat Boris Becker (1990) 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals9.jpg
Edberg's sweet revenge

Fittingly, the final act of the Edberg-Becker Wimbledon trilogy was also the most enthralling. Edberg, who had beaten Becker in the 1988 final only to have the Challenge Cup firmly prised from his grasp by the German the following summer, stormed into a two-set lead with a regal exhibition of serve-and-volley tennis. Becker belatedly discovered his service rhythm, recovering the deficit before breaking to lead 3-1 in the final set, but some inspired returning earned a fired-up Edberg a double break and his second title. "It was the kind of final you don't see too often," said Becker. He was not wrong.


10. Rod Laver beat John Newcombe (1969) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/graphics/tennis/wimb08/mfinals10.jpg
All that glitters is gold

The fourth and final Wimbledon title of the Rockhampton Rocket's glittering career was also the most significant. As the third leg of a calendar year Grand Slam – the second of Laver's career following his clean sweep of the majors as an amateur in 1962 – his four-set victory over fellow Australian John Newcombe was a key staging post on the road to sporting immortality.


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/tennis/wimb08/nosplit/msfinals.xml

Allez
06-23-2008, 08:42 PM
1. 2001
2. 2007

Becker's Volleys
06-23-2008, 09:31 PM
1. Ivanesivic-Rafter
2. Borg-Mac
3. Fed-Nadal ('07)
4. Sampras-Agassi

DDrago2
06-23-2008, 09:35 PM
These zombie-like names like Ashe and Newcombe confuse me a bit These matches should not be counted

BigJohn
06-23-2008, 09:36 PM
Ouch...

I'm old enough to have seen 7 out of the 10, plus Borg-McEnroe many time during rain delays... Each was indeed something special.

Becker's Volleys
06-23-2008, 09:41 PM
Becker's best win in terms of performance was the '89 final, his finest year. Beating a peak Edberg in straights was no mean feat.

Becker's Volleys
06-23-2008, 09:42 PM
Ouch...

I'm old enough to have seen 7 out of the 10, plus Borg-McEnroe many time during rain delays... Each was indeed something special.


Lucky you to have unwitnessed the drama of all those finals live. For me Goran-Rafter is the best final during my lifetime but in terms of epics Borg-Mac is it's dead equal. Best ever performance in a final? Federer vs Roddick in '05 takes it in my book, sublime shotmaking.

Burrow
06-23-2008, 09:45 PM
I would put the Ivanisevic win above Mcenroe Borg because everybody knew how much Ivanisevic wanted that win and it would quite possibly be his last real chance to win, made it much more dramatic than Mcenroe Borg.

Becker's Volleys
06-24-2008, 08:05 AM
I would put the Ivanisevic win above Mcenroe Borg because everybody knew how much Ivanisevic wanted that win and it would quite possibly be his last real chance to win, made it much more dramatic than Mcenroe Borg.



This is a fair point I suppose. For most of the match I was neutral as I liked both players but given the manner in which Goran regrouped after Rafter squared it at 2 sets apiece, I was rooting for him by the later stages. Fantastic end to the match. Still felt very sorry for Rafter at the end, but you felt it was destiny that Goran would win it eventually.


As he said before that final: "I do not want that 'plate' again". :devil:

Federer=God
06-24-2008, 08:14 AM
Pretty good list. I agree with the first two totally :)

Top Three:

1) Borg/McEnroe. This is possibly the greatest match ever.
2) Rafter/Ivanisevic. One of the absolute greatest matches of the decade. AMazing story, drama and match.
3) Fed/Nadal 07. Amazing match, kept me up all night.

Probably missed some, but the top 2 are concrete in my opinion :)

Knightmace
06-24-2008, 08:40 AM
I Don't agree with No3

1Borg/McEnroe
2.Nadal/Federer
3.Rafter/Ivanisevic

Federer=God
06-24-2008, 08:45 AM
I agree. Some of the matches (primarily #3) are fat too overrated.

The Pro
06-24-2008, 11:01 AM
Ivanesevic was about 200 or so to 1 to win that year.

I wanted to put money on put couldn't from the middle of nowhere. Gutted after the final, but also happy for him. :rolleyes:

Becker's Volleys
06-24-2008, 12:13 PM
It would've been nice to have stuck money on that at the beginning of the tournament, but in truth hardly anybody even thought he'd a chance of getting to the later stages again nevermind the final and win it. What a fairytale. His run through was very impressive, beating Roddick, Greg, Safin. Once he got to the final there wasn't any denying him.

marcRD
06-24-2008, 01:07 PM
Agassi vs Sampras should not be before NAdal vs Federer. That match was kind of boring, the outcome of that match was never in doubt and ofcourse Sampras plaeyed a great match, but it is not a classic like the Federer-Nadal match, so I dont understand this list at all I must say.

Burrow
06-24-2008, 01:59 PM
federer nadal wasn't that good, it was a hardcourt match on grass, not to my liking.

CyBorg
06-24-2008, 02:18 PM
Ivanisevic/Rafter is an overrated match. Yes, it was close and kind of exciting but the quality of tennis was hardly great. If anything the match was extended by the fact that both players were making errors. It was ugly, boobless tennis for the most part.

A great final was the 1982 match between Connors and McEnroe. Now that was tennis and frankly much more exciting than any of the ones listed, save for the 1980 match.

That said, if one is going to write up a list of other great Wimbledon finals (including those before the Open era) one should also look at the following:

- Borota over Lacoste in 1924: 6-1 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-4
- Cochet over Borotra in 1927: 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-5
- Crawford over Vines in 1933: 4-6 11-9 6-2 2-6 6-4
- Schroeder over Drobny in 1949: 3-6 6-0 6-3 4-6 6-4
- Fraser over Laver in 1960: 6-4 3-6 9-7 7-5
- Newcombe over Smith in 1971: 6-3 5-7 2-6 6-4 6-4
- Smith over Nastase in 1972: 4-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 7-5

CyBorg
06-24-2008, 02:20 PM
Btw, I strongly disagree with the inclusion of the 1975 final. I think that seeing Ashe win was neat, just for the look of surprise on Jimmy's face, because he came in strutting like a prick that he is.

But it was a bloody blowout for the first two sets before Jimmy made it kind of respectable before finally conceding the fourth.

I think I know why this final is so beloved. A black man won it.

CmonAussie
06-24-2008, 02:35 PM
...
...
of course i`m biased but my favourite was the 1987 final with CASH kicking LENDL`s arse: 7-6 6-2 7-5.
Cash was my favourite player then & Lendl was the player i hated the most~~ so it was a thing of beauty [esp as Lendl never got his career slam]. Actually Lendl had good chances to win both the 1st & 3rd sets but he didn`t seem to believe in himself on grass for the big points. In the 3rd set Lendl led 5-1 before Cash stormed home to win the last 5 games on the trot!! *Also it was sweet because Cash happened to go to the same high school as my dad [Ringwood High in the subourbs of Melb] & considering just 12 months earlier Pat had been in hospital with an appendix opperation.

iriraz
06-24-2008, 02:52 PM
The Ivanisevic-Rafter final wasn`t necessary a high quality tennis encounter but the drama and the teriffic atmosphere in the stadium made up for it.I can`t remember any other match where the crowds went wild like on that day.

CyBorg
06-24-2008, 03:38 PM
The Ivanisevic-Rafter final wasn`t necessary a high quality tennis encounter but the drama and the teriffic atmosphere in the stadium made up for it.I can`t remember any other match where the crowds went wild like on that day.

How many Wimbledon finals have you been to?

BlueSwan
06-24-2008, 05:43 PM
Pretty good list. I agree with the first two totally :)

Top Three:

1) Borg/McEnroe. This is possibly the greatest match ever.
2) Rafter/Ivanisevic. One of the absolute greatest matches of the decade. AMazing story, drama and match.
3) Fed/Nadal 07. Amazing match, kept me up all night.

Probably missed some, but the top 2 are concrete in my opinion :)

Yeah, definitely those three finals (of the ones I've seen, of course). Don't really know which order I would put them in, they're all brilliant.

BlueSwan
06-24-2008, 05:45 PM
Ivanisevic/Rafter is an overrated match. Yes, it was close and kind of exciting but the quality of tennis was hardly great. If anything the match was extended by the fact that both players were making errors. It was ugly, boobless tennis for the most part.

A great final was the 1982 match between Connors and McEnroe. Now that was tennis and frankly much more exciting than any of the ones listed, save for the 1980 match.

That said, if one is going to write up a list of other great Wimbledon finals (including those before the Open era) one should also look at the following:

- Borota over Lacoste in 1924: 6-1 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-4
- Cochet over Borotra in 1927: 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-5
- Crawford over Vines in 1933: 4-6 11-9 6-2 2-6 6-4
- Schroeder over Drobny in 1949: 3-6 6-0 6-3 4-6 6-4
- Fraser over Laver in 1960: 6-4 3-6 9-7 7-5
- Newcombe over Smith in 1971: 6-3 5-7 2-6 6-4 6-4
- Smith over Nastase in 1972: 4-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 7-5

Erm...have you actually SEEN any of those?

BlueSwan
06-24-2008, 05:46 PM
It would've been nice to have stuck money on that at the beginning of the tournament, but in truth hardly anybody even thought he'd a chance of getting to the later stages again nevermind the final and win it. What a fairytale. His run through was very impressive, beating Roddick, Greg, Safin. Once he got to the final there wasn't any denying him.

Actually, a few rounds in I started to get the feeling that Goran was destined to win. I don't remember after which match it was, though.

yonexforever
07-09-2008, 07:03 PM
For any match to qualify as a greatest ever.. the last set score for the loser can not be less than 4 games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!