Tennis might be one of the most unpredictable sport in the world, filled with moments which can be forgotten next day and there are also moments which can never be forgotten, even in 100 years.
The sport is believed to be originated in 12th century France, therefore the sport has a very rich history and many great memorable matches have taken place throughout the history of tennis. Thus, it is impossible to narrow down the list to Top 10 and the list might vary for every person.
In this article, we will talk about the top 10 most epic matches in tennis history according to our perspective.
#10. Billie Jean King vs Bobby Riggs (1973)
In 1973, the match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs was the most viewed match of that year and was also one of the most controversial match in the tennis history. This match is popularly known as the “Battle of the Sexes” because it took place between a male and a female player.
Four months prior to this legendary match, Bobby Riggs faced another great female player of that time, Margaret Court, and she lost to Riggs in a straight set with a score of 6-2, 6-1. After this win, Riggs challenged all female players to which King responded and agreed to play against Riggs. Further, the match ended in the favour of King with a score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and she even received $100,000.
However, Billie faced a lot of criticism, as many experts believed that King was 26 years younger than Riggs and so the age difference played a big role in her victory. And many also claimed that match being an act and Riggs lost it willingly and his game was not how he usually play. But, King responded to critics and said she took notes from the Riggs’ match against Court and came up with tactics to take him down. The match is one of the most epic matches in the tennis history and thus in 2017, a movie was also made on this match.
#9. Goran Ivanisevic vs Pat Rafter (2001)
The 2001 Wimbledon final was no less than a script of an outstanding movie, as an underdog player lifted the Grand Slam title that year.
Goran Ivanisevic, who ranked World No. 125 at that point of time, which was a very low rank to qualify in the main draws for Wimbledon. However, he had three Wimbledon final appearances in the past, and got a wildcard entry in the 2001 Grand Slam. Further, Goran took down some great players of that year, like Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick, Marat Safin and Tim Henman to reach the finals.
In finals, he faced the last year’s runner-up Patrick Rafter, but Goran gave an equal competition to Rafter and in the end even lifted the Wimbledon title. Thus, Ivanisevic became the first and only player to win Grand Slam as a low-ranking player and also as a wildcard entry. There is no doubt this dramatic final is one of the most epic matches in the tennis history.
#8. Monica Seles vs Steffi Graf (1995)
A match between two greats of their time should be one of the most epic matches in the tennis history and it did when Monica Seles faced Steffi Graf at the 1995 US Open Final.
Seles had faced Graf many times in her career, but what made the 1995 encounter special was this tournament was a comeback for Seles and at this match she grew stronger as a player. Seles won eight Grand Slam by the age of 20 and was dominating the women’s tennis during an era of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.
In 1993, she was stabbed by an unstable spectator, which forced her to move away from tennis for two years. The US Open was her comeback to the major tournaments, and she defeated many Top 10 players to reach the finals, where she was facing the German legend.
The first set was in favor of Graf but Seles evolved her game in next set and within just 26 minutes on the set with 6-0. However, she also pushed Graf to evolve her game further and the German won the finals. However, the match was no doubt one of the most epic matches.
#7. Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer (2019)
The 2019 Wimbledon final is the most recent addition to the list of most epic matches in tennis history. As the final match took place between the two greatest players of the present times.
The final took place a few days prior to Roger Federer’s 38th birthday and his fans were expecting him to add another Grand Slam title to his collection. However, the feat won’t be that easy as Rog was facing the then Number One Novak Djokovic.
There is no doubt when two greats faces each other, something historic happens for sure. And same happened in this final, as the Swiss maestro was pushing the Serb to the edge, but Nole saved both break points and the match led to a fifth tie-breaker. But finally Djokovic bagged the Wimbledon title with the score of 7–6, 1–6, 7–6, 4–6, 13–12 and this match was so epic that it went on for 4 hours 57 minutes, one of the longest Grand Slam final in the tennis history.
#6. John Isner v Nicolas Mahut (2010)
We just got to know about the longest Grand Slam finals but now it’s another long match, which made its way to being an unforgettable event in the tennis history.
The match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at the 2010 Wimbledon takes the throne of this Top 10 list. As the match lasted for a record duration of 11 hours 5 minutes and required three days to conclude the legendary match. The match finished with Isner winning the match for 6–4, 3–6, 6 (7)–7 (9), 7 (7)–6 (3), 70–68.
This “endless match” broke many records and also forced the authorities to introduce new rules in the sport. Thus, it seems impossible to break the record of this legendary match.
#5. Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal (2012)
It seems whenever World No.1 Novak Djokovic plays against a great player, the match would become one of the most epic matches in the tennis history. It happened when he faced Rafael Nadal.
In 2012, Nole went against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open final and when two greats meet at finals, you can always expect to witness a heated battle on the court. Djokovic, who is known as the “King of Hard Courts” lost the first set to Nadal. However, the Serb made a comeback in next two sets and was dominating the third set. But Rafa made a comeback and won the fourth and pushed the match to a fifth match, which was not less than a tug of war between the two best players in the world.
Djokovic finally won the last set and adding another Australian Open to his collection. However, aside from the heated competition between the two, the match was also known because the time duration was 5hours 53 minutes, making it the longest Grand Slam final in history.
#4. Suzanne Lenglen vs Helen Wills (1962)
Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills are said to be the greatest women players of the Amateur era and even considered as the pioneers of the Women’s tennis. Therefore, this match was the first encounter between the two and is known as the “Match of the Century.”
However, both the legends never faced each other in an official tournament. But they finally played against each other at the women’s singles final of the February edition of the Carlton Club tournament, which is a middle tier tournament. Thus, there was not much of an excitement about this tournament.
But things were different in 1962, as two of the greatest women players faced each other that year at this middle-tier tournament. The match ended in the favor of the French legend, winning the match in a straight set with a score of 6-3, 8-6.
#3. Pete Sampras vs Andre Agassi (2002)
Who doesn’t know the rivalry between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, they have played against each other on many occasions, but the 2002 US Open was great because of many reasons.
Sampras and Agassi are the greatest American players in the tennis history and both have taken on each other at 34 appearances. However, Sampras was leading the Head to Head stats with 20 wins, whereas Agassi had 14 wins. No doubt, this match between the two American greats attracted a huge crowd and a fierce battle of tennis broke out between the two. However, Sampras got the upper hand in last set and won the 2001 Wimbledon final with a score of 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Soon after the final, Sampras announced quitting the courts forever.
Therefore, this match has a very importance significance in tennis history. This was the last time the world witnessed Pete, and he further also became the first man in tennis history to win a major title in his last tournament.
#2. Bjorn Borg vs John McEnroe (1980)
Another great rivalry in the tennis history is that of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe and the 1980 Wimbledon final was the greatest match in the history because both the legends faced each other.
A match between Borg and McEnroe is like a fight between ice and fire, as the Swedish is considered the coolest on court, whereas McEnroe was an American hothead. The American took down the Swedish in the first set, but Borg won the next two sets. But the most memorable event was the fourth where the match had the epic 34-point tiebreaker, which McEnroe won. However, Borg finally took down John in the last jest and won the Wimbledon for fifth consecutive time and also his last time lifting that Grand Slam.
#1. Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal (2008)
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are called the “Big Three” because these three are the best players in the world right now. And we already witnessed these three names on the list, but Federer and Rafa both appeared playing against Djokovic.
But that doesn’t mean the Swiss never played against the Spanish Bull, because they had played many great matches against each other. However, the most epic encounter between the two was the 2008 Wimbledon final.
Nadal already lost to Roger in the 2007 Wimbledon and Federer was known for his dominance at grass courts. Therefore, the match attracted a lot of attention and without a doubt King Roger was the fan-favourite. However, no one expected a nerve-racking 4 hours 48 minutes long tennis match will take place, which will have the most phenomenal moments. After five tiring sets, Rafa bagged the Wimbledon title that year with a score of 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (6-8), 9-7.
Without a doubt, this was one of the most epic matches in the tennis history, even the American legend John McEnroe declared it the greatest match he ever witnessed.
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