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From the vault: Classic Wimbledon moments (Part 2)

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Roar Guru
5 days ago
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Following Part 1, here is Part 2 of my look back on great Wimbledon moments.

Andy Murray ends the great British drought – and then does it again in 2016
As Andy Murray rose up the tennis ranks in the first half of the last decade, many questioned whether he could become the first local champion at the All England Club since Fred Perry in 1936.

His first chance came in 2012 when he pounced on a draw that was blown wide open by Rafael Nadal’s second-round upset loss at the hands of Lukas Rosol (more below).

The Briton had been expected to go deep anyway, but had his path to a first Wimbledon final blocked by the Spaniard in the semi-final stage in 2010 and 2011.

He had been drawn to face the King of Clay at this stage again, but instead found himself facing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final-four stage.

Murray ultimately defeated the Frenchman to become the first local man to reach the final at his national championships since Don Budge in 1938.

There, he faced Roger Federer, but despite taking the first set, the Swiss maestro proved to be a class above as he claimed a seventh Wimbledon crown, leaving Murray bitterly devastated.

The following year, Murray again capitalised on a draw that was weakened by the early exits of Federer and Nadal to reach the summit match, where Novak Djokovic would await.

Already stung by a four-set loss to the Serb in the final of the Australian Open earlier that year, the Scot defeated the world number one in straight sets to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win tennis’ holy grail.

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Murray’s win was the culmination of 12 months of hard work, which also included winning the Olympic gold medal on the same Wimbledon grass courts, and won his first major at the expense of Djokovic at the 2012 US Open.

The Scot returned to the summit match at Wimbledon three years later, and this time he faced Canadian Milos Raonic, marking his first major final against anyone other than Federer or Djokovic.

Now 29, Murray again won in straight sets to claim his second Wimbledon title, and four months later would finally ascend to the top of the rankings, breaking the 13-year, three-pronged dominance of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic at world number one.

The epic Djokovic-Federer finals of 2014 and 2019
Two of the greatest Wimbledon finals of the past decade occurred in 2014 and 2019, both between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Going into the 2014 championship match, the pair had only ever faced each other once in a major final, when Federer defeated Djokovic in straight sets in the final of the 2007 US Open to win his 12th major title (and fourth straight in a string of five at Flushing Meadows).

It had therefore been a long time between drinks, but since that final, Djokovic had won six majors to Federer’s five.

The Serb was going for his second Wimbledon title, after winning in 2011, and Federer was shooting for a record eighth title having shared the record of seven with Pete Sampras.

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What unfolded was a war of attrition that lasted five sets and clocked in at nearly four hours, with both men playing exceptionally well right up to the death.

Neither player could manufacture a break point in the first set, which Federer took 9-7 in a tiebreak. The first set alone, which lasted 51 minutes, was four minutes less than the entire women’s final played the previous day (in which Petra Kvitova thumped Eugenie Bouchard for the loss of just three games).

A break early in the second set was enough for the Djoker to take the second set and level proceedings at one set apiece.

Federer then won the third set in a tiebreak, and Djokovic appeared to be on his way to a second title in four years when he led 5-2 in the fourth set. However, the Swiss maestro would break the Serb for the first time in the game, and then saved a championship point in the tenth game en route to levelling the match at two sets all.

The championship match thus went into a fifth set for the first time since 2009.

Both men would continue their excellent standard of play, with the first nine games going on serve, leaving Federer to serve to stay in the match in the tenth game.

Djokovic would earn two championship points after Federer sent a forehand long, and would claim his second Wimbledon title after Federer netted a backhand to end the contest just four minutes short of four hours.

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Djokovic then repeated the dose on Federer the following year, winning in four sets (though it could’ve been a straight-sets victory had Federer not saved seven set points in the second set), but we only had to wait until 2019 for another epic Wimbledon final between the pair.

The 2019 Championships were the first to feature the new final set tiebreak rule, in which a regular tiebreak is invoked at 12-all in the final set so as to ensure that a winner can be decided in a reasonable time frame.

This was implemented in response to two epic Wimbledon matches involving John Isner: his 2010 marathon match against Nicolas Mahut, and his 2018 semi-final loss to Kevin Anderson in which the final set went to 26-24.

The new rule was invoked for the first time in the men’s singles final, which will go down in the record books as being the longest men’s championship match played at SW19 measured by time (four hours and 56 minutes).

The first four sets were split, with Djokovic winning the first and third in tiebreaks and Federer dominating the second and fourth. This sent the Wimbledon men’s final into a one-set championship shootout for the first time since 2014.

The Serb gained the upper hand early in the last, breaking for a 4-2 lead, before Federer broke back to put it back on serve. Then, the Swiss maestro broke in the 16th game and earned two championship points on his serve.

Any chances he had of becoming the oldest major winner in the Open era were quickly wiped out as he put a forehand wide on the first championship point, while Djokovic saved the second with a cross-court forehand winner of his own.

Djokovic then broke back for 9-8 and it was game on, again. This was the first time since the equally-as-epic 2009 Wimbledon final in which any major final has gone beyond 8-all in the deciding set.

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Neither player could gain an edge and so, at 12-all, the new final set tiebreak format would be invoked for the first time in a singles match at the All England Club.

The Serb would dominate this tiebreak, winning it 7-3, to finally win what is the longest Wimbledon final ever measured by time, clocking in at four hours and 57 minutes – nine minutes longer than the Federer versus Nadal epic of 2008.

The final set alone lasted over two hours – more than twice the time it took for Simona Halep to dismantle Serena Williams in the women’s decider.

It took Djokovic:
• nearly three hours less to win the 2019 title than it did for Nadal to prevail in the 2008 decider, which was interrupted many times by rain, with the Spaniard not winning it until 9:15pm local time, nearly seven hours after the first ball was served at 2:30pm
• 40 minutes longer than it did for Federer to beat Andy Roddick in the 2009 decider, in which the Swiss maestro prevailed 16-14 in the final set after breaking the American for the only time in the 29th game
• 56 minutes less than it did for him to defeat Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open final, in which the final set went to 7-5

The Serb also became the first man since Gaston Gaudio at the 2004 French Open to win a major final after saving match points, while it is the third time he has saved match points against Federer at a major, also doing so in the semi-finals of the 2010 and 2011 US Opens.

Chances are, if the new tiebreak rule hadn’t been invoked, the match would’ve very likely entered a second day, which would’ve meant the tournament would have finished on a third Monday for the first time since 2001.

But Djokovic’s victory vindicated the All England Club’s decision to introduce this rule, which was primarily designed to truncate marathon matches such as the ones mentioned above.

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Great Wimbledon upsets
Of the four grand slam tournaments, Wimbledon has produced arguably the biggest upsets in tennis history.

I have already recapped Roger Federer’s stunning win over Pete Sampras in Part 1, which marked a changing of the guard in men’s tennis, but there are also plenty to get through.

In 2003, men’s defending champion Lleyton Hewitt was expected to breeze past Croatian qualifier Ivo Karlovic, ranked 203 in the world.

True to form, he took the opening set 6-1 in just under 20 minutes, but he would be in for a rude surprise as Karlovic sprung the biggest upset on a men’s defending champion seen for many years.

The man dubbed Dr Ivo then took the second set in a tiebreak, and it was game on.

Karlovic then took the next two sets to complete a stunning victory, thus adding Hewitt’s name to a list of players who lost in the first round of their grand slam title defences, the Australian joining the likes of Pat Rafter and Boris Becker in the hall of shame.

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The following year, four-time finalist Venus Williams produced her worst result at the All England Club when she fell to another Croat, Karolina Sprem (now the wife of former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis) in the second round.

Sprem won in straight sets, with both sets going to tiebreaks, en route to reaching her first (and only) major quarter-final where she lost to the 1999 champion, Lindsay Davenport.

The 2008 tournament saw each of the world’s top four women – Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova – all fail to reach the quarter-finals.

Sharapova was first to depart when she was beaten by Alla Kudryavtseva in the second round. She was followed out the door 24 hours later by recently minted French Open champion Ivanovic, who lost in straight sets to Chinese wildcard Zheng Jie on Centre Court.

Jankovic and Kuznetsova then crashed out on the second Monday, falling to Tamarine Tanasugarn and Agnieszka Radwanska, respectively.

The 2012 tournament was turned on its head when little known Czech Lukas Rosol upset two-time champion Rafael Nadal on Centre Court in the second round.

That would be the first of the Spaniard’s recent woes at the All England Club, but if his defeat to Rosol wasn’t embarrassing enough, the King of Clay would then suffer even more humiliation the following year, beaten in straight sets by Steve Darcis in the first round.

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Nadal fared better by reaching the fourth round, reversing his 2012 loss to Rosol in the process, only to then be on the receiving end of a Centre Court masterclass by Australian wildcard Nick Kyrgios.

Nick Kyrgios

(Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2015, the Spaniard was stopped in his tracks by German Dustin Brown, who can almost certainly lay claim to being one of only two men to have never lost to Nadal in at least two meetings.

Even the great Roger Federer has also been on the receiving end, none more so than in 2013, when he lost to unheralded Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round.

The Swiss maestro won the first set in a tiebreak, but Stakhovsky would play the match of his life to record a four-set upset victory and sentence Federer to his earliest defeat at a major in a decade, and his first pre-quarter-final exit at a major since the 2004 French Open.

Federer’s defeat was one of many to occur on what was dubbed “Black Wednesday” in 2013.

The 2002 men’s champion Lleyton Hewitt also departed that day, as did Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, two-time Australian Open women’s champion Victoria Azarenka, and former women’s world number ones Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki.

In Tsonga’s case, he retired while trailing two sets to one against Ernests Gulbis, while Azarenka withdrew prior to her second-round engagement against Flavia Pennetta after suffering a knee injury in her first-round match.

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Those were just some of the great Wimbledon moments that have occurred this century – from the memorable victory by Maria Sharapova to Roger Federer’s rise to dominance, the memorable finals, Andy Murray’s breakthrough and the great upsets that shaped the tournament.