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As a fan of tennis, there is no doubt one match that has meant something special to you, a match so memorable that you chalked it up as one of the best. Let’s face it, there have been many incredible tennis matches throughout the Open Era and even before. Maybe you have been lucky enough to see some of the jaw-dropping matches that made your heart pound in person. Imagine having to choose a small number of the best tennis matches of all time!
Here are some of the matches that have gone down in history:
1. Wimbledon Finals 1980: John McEnroe vs Bjorn Borg
When talking about legendary tennis rivalries, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe are near the top of the list (a movie was even made about their relationship). Bjorn is known as one of the most composed people around, while John McEnroe was the All-American Hothead. Both men were extremely strong players at this point, too.
McEnroe opened the first set with a fast-paced attack, leaving Borg reeling. Yet, Borg turned up the heat and won the next two sets with ease. At 5-4 in the fourth set, everyone watching thought that Borg was going to take the championship. However, McEnroe rallied. What ensued was a crazy 34-point tiebreaker, the most memorable in the entire history of Wimbledon. McEnroe won the tiebreaker at 18-16. Then McEnroe got five match points while Borg had six.
Though Borg had a momentary slip, losing the serve, he regained control by getting 19 straight points. The entire match lasted nearly 4 hours.
At that point, Borg had won 5 Wimbledon titles, but he decided that, after nearly losing to McEnroe, that his dominance was nearing an end. The next year, McEnroe dethroned him.
Here are some of the highlights from this epic match:
2. French Open Final 1984: John McEnroe vs Ivan Lendl
Despite being named one of the greatest tennis matches in history, John McEnroe would like to forget all about it. In 1984, McEnroe was in his prime. He was slated to win the French Open, as he had been unbeatable throughout that year. Meanwhile, his opponent, Czech player Ivan Lendl had far less success.
During the finals, McEnroe took an early lead on the clay. He made it to the sixth game with a score of 6-3. However, that was set to change. Excessive background noise led to McEnroe having an altercation with a cameraman. This caused him to falter, and Lendl struck back, taking the next set at 6-4. Then he won another and another.
McEnroe tried to regain his lead but ended up missing a volley, handing over the win to Lendl.
3.French Open Final 1985: Martina Navratilova vs Chris Evert
Whenever Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were on the court together, there were sparks. Having won 20 of their 23 matches against one another, Navratilova felt confident that she could trump Evert in the 1985 French Open. Yet Evert decided to switch up her attack. Typically, Evert would hug the baseline, but she decided to push forward early in the match.
Evert was leading 4-2 and was ready to close Navratilova out when her opponent rallied, regaining momentum. Over an hour was spent going back and forth, each player winning and losing points. Evert got to 3-1, but Navratilova brought it to a stalemate at 3-3. Then Evert got 5-3, only to be stymied. But then Navratilova took a risk—a drop shot—that didn’t pay off. Evert took the 6-5.
Then the greatest thing ended the game: Evert returned to the baseline for an exceptional backhand that won her the match.
4. Wimbledon Final 2005: Venus Williams vs Lindsay Davenport
In 2005, Venus Williams was experiencing a slump after losing to Sesil Karatantcheva during the French Open. Yet, she entered Wimbledon with victory in mind. Reaching the semi-finals took little effort. She even overcame defending champion Maria Sharapova with ease (6-2, 6-1).
What came next was the final against Lindsey Davenport, and it was nothing but remarkable. Davenport shut down William’s aggressive style by forcing her back to take the first set. Williams refused to truckle, and with a burst of brilliance, she regained control of the second set via tie-break.
The third set had many onlookers biting their nails. Back and forth the ball went. Williams almost threw the game after a double fault. However, after 2 hours and 46 minutes, Williams seized the last set with 9-7.
5. Wimbledon Final 2008: Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer may have recently retired, but he will remain one of the best male players for many years to come. Yet, he has had some incredible matches in which he did not emerge victorious. Entering the Wimbledon final having 231 consecutive weeks as No. 1, Federer thought he would be fine. Rafael Nadal had lost to him on clay at Roland Garros after all.
The first point was claimed after a rally of 14 strokes. The match was intense. Nadal was the first to break his serve in the third game. Nadal reached 5-4 before Federer got two points. One player would pull ahead just enough to provoke the other to move more aggressively. Each game was intense and the match did not end until after 9 PM. Nadal won, but Federer had fought tooth and nail. The final scoreboard was: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (6-8), 9-7.
Take a look at this battle:
6. French Open Semi-Final 2013: Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic
What happens when two of the greatest male players cross paths? An explosive match. Many onlookers said the match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros was like a boxing match. The ball rarely stopped moving. They both made use of ground strokes, extended the rallies, and were constantly trying to break one another. However, Nadal finally proved that he is truly the King of Clay by claiming a break point during the 5th set, winning the match.
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The Greatest Matches and Memories
Do you remember any of these matches? For many tennis fans, these were some of the most heart-stopping matches ever. There is a lot to be learned from reviewing the best tennis matches of all time like these, even if you are just an avid fan. Looking at the skill and athleticism of these players, it is safe to say that their matches redefined competitiveness in tennis. Now that you have learned about these six incredible battles on the court, are there any you would suggest as the best? Let us know.