Memories from past Wimbledon Tennis classic matches


Today would have seen the start of Wimbledon fortnight, the only Grand Slam played on grass, but alas due to the current situation of the pandemic it has meant that Wimbledon, like a lot of other summer sporting events will have to be put on hold for a year.

But fear not as I take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the classic matches played at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.

The most classic match ever played on the hallow grass in SW19 has to be the battle between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. The match will always be remembered for the length of time it took to complete, a mere 11 hours and five minutes with the American Isner eventually winning in five sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

The battle was the longest match in Wimbledon history and was spread over three days. The final set of 138 games lasting eight hours and 11 minutes easily breaking the record for the longest match in history.

Going back to 2011, who can ever forget the men’s final between Goran Ivanisevic and Pat Rafter. Ivanisevic eventually coming out on top in five sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7. What made this match extra special was it was played on a Monday, due to bad weather and will always be remembered for the unseeded Ivanisevic, who was ranked as low as 125th at the time.

Looking even further back, into the seventies and 1975. The men’s final between Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors, with Ashe winning in four sets 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4. One of the big upsets of the tournament as Connors was top seed for the fortnight with Ashe seeded six.

The classic Wimbledon match in the sixties would have to be a first round match between Pancho Gonzales and Charlie Pasarell in 1969.

Gonzales defeated Pasarell in five sets which was a remarkable achievement for the 41-year-old as it was 21 years since he won his first grand slam title back in 1948.

The veteran Gonzales had to come from two sets down and saving seven match points before prevailing against 25-year-old Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9. At the time it was the longest match in Wimbledon history and was played at a time when no tie breaks were in operation.

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe certainly had plenty of battles between them in their successful tennis careers. The 1980 Men’s Final will always be remembered for an incredible 22-minute, 34-point, fourth set tiebreak during Borg’s 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6 victory.

The rivalry between Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Swiss Roger Federer have always been intense, none more so than the 2008 Men’s Final. Nadal was out for revenge after suffering a five-set loss to Roger in the 2007 final.

Many tennis experts rightly called this the greatest match ever played. Both players responded with 4 hours and 48 minutes of scintillating tennis, the longest final in Wimbledon history.

Nadal eventually claimed victory over his fierce rival 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 that ended at 9.16 pm in near darkness on centre court.

Federer fended off two match points against him in the fourth set, with the match interrupted twice due to rain.

Marathon man Isner was involved in another lengthy match at Wimbledon in the 2018 championships. In a titanic battle between big server Kevin Anderson, the match lasted 6 hours and 36 minutes in the first semi-final of the tournament. The South African getting the better of Isner 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24. After 50 games in the final set, this had a big influence in the eventual decision to bring in tie breaks in the fifth and final set.

It hasn’t been just the men who have been involved in lengthy matches. Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport went toe to toe in the Ladies Final of 2005 with Williams coming out on top 4-6, 7-6, 9-7 in two hours and 45 minutes, making it the longest women’s final in Wimbledon history.

Margaret Court and Billie Jean King were the leading lights of women’s tennis in the late sixties and early seventies.

When they met in the Wimbledon final of 1970, they produced an epic match with Court getting the better of King 14-12, 11-9, with Court needing seven match points to finish off the longest women’s Wimbledon final in history in terms of games played.

And finally, we can not get away with out mentioning Andy Murray and Wimbledon.

Sir Andy has won the tournament twice in 2013 and 2016. His first ever Wimbledon triumph will always go down in history after defeating Novak Djokkovic in straight sets to end Britain’s 77 year wait for a men’s champion.

Three years later Murray defeated Canadian Milos Raonic in straight sets 6-4, 7-6, 7-2 and in so doing claimed his third Grand Slam title.

Memories of Wimbledon are etched in my mind. Such a pity that circumstances dictate that we will have to wait another year for such a great event in the tennis calendar. Guess those strawberries and cream will have to wait a bit longer then.




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