Monday, July 07, 2008

The greatest finals

The Monday after the end of Wimbledon always leaves me with a similar feeling to Twelfth Night. Something you look forward to all year has been and gone for another 12 months, and it is invariably a week or so before life returns to "normal."

Was Nadal-Federer the greatest Wimbledon Men's Final in history? Many are already saying so. For my part, I would rank it in my Top 3 alongside Borg-McEnroe (1980) and Smith-Nastase (1972) although I still think the most remarkable performances in Wimbledon history were Arthur Ashe's outfoxing of a rampant Jimmy Connors in the '75 final, and John McEnroe's demolition of the same opponent nine years later.

I reckon I have watched part or all of every Wimbledon Men's Final since 1970. Here's my Top 10.

1. 1980 Borg bt McEnroe. Still the greatest final for me - just. Lit up by McEnroe's sheer genius.
2. 2008 Nadal bt Federer. Nadal manages to hold it together despite blowing two match points in the 4th set. Incredible.
3. 1972 Smith bt Nastase. A lovely period piece from a gentler Wimbledon age.
4. 1975 Ashe bt Connors. The greatest individual Wimbledon performance - Ashe's tactics echoed those of Ali against Foreman.
5. 1977 Borg bt Connors. Possibly Borg's best final - Connors was still the best player in the world at the time.
6. 1984 McEnroe bt Connors. Mac's masterclass - surely the most comprehensive demolition job in the history of Wimbledon finals.
7. 1992 Agassi bt Ivanisevic. The counterpuncher overcomes the big server, a rare occurence at 1990s Wimbledons.
8. 1991 Stich bt Becker. Almost as big an upset as Ashe-Connors, Stich played serenely well to win this one.
9. 1970 Newcombe bt Rosewall. Heroic effort by Rosewall, who regains from Nadal the title of "best player never to win Wimbledon."
10. 2004 Federer bt Roddick. Roger at his sublime best - he made poor Roddick look ordinary.

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5 comments:

stephen rouse said...

Am I alone in having been bored out of my skull yesterday? Nadal showed no attacking intent - just Ivan Lendl with biceps - while Federer was strangely unambitious. On a proper grass surface, with balls at the right pressure, Becker or Edberg would have taken either one of them apart. Their three-match series of finals, unjustly neglected here, raised the serve-and-volley to a kind of minimalist art form.

Paul Linford said...

I was not really a huge fan of serve-and-volley, Stephen. The only finals I really enjoyed in that whole era were the one in which the baseliner (Agassi) defeated the serve-and-volley man, and the one in which Stich reduced Becker to a blubbering, self-pitying wreck.

Anonymous said...

surely the ivanisevic win in 01?

stephen rouse said...

Those were both great wins Paul - but precisely because they were against the odds against monster serves on a really fast surface. Lendl, too, deserves credit for making two finals on a surface he clearly loathed. Conditions have now changed so much, I can't view Nadal's win in the same way.

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