Friday, 1 June 2012

6 Grand Slam Finals you shouldn't have missed

The debate of who the greatest tennis player is one that might continue till the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic retire. Until then, the fans of these players will continue to throw jabs at each other, pointing to the mistakes of some of the greatest players we have come to know. Looking back now, what was that point in time where everything changed? I mean, quite seriously, we know it takes a lot of effort, time and consistency to break into the top 3 (who are more or less, the unstoppable bunch) but what exactly does it take to go past the point of being in the shoes of Andy Murray?
Well, one could say, it would be just one career defining match. You might disagree with me on some of my choices but all these matches were ones that turned around the fortunes of the players involved, and in a major way. Check this out;

                Andy Murray at the Australian Open 2011

#6. Serena Williams- 2002 French Open final
Final  results;  7-5 6-3                                          against;  Venus Williams
This was my first pick for a career defining match mainly because this was that point in Serena’s career where she first made an incredible stride against her elder sister. There is no doubt the battle of the siblings continues but that match seems to be the one that gave the upper hand to the more athletic of the two sisters.   She has gone on to win six out of their last seven grand slam finals and at this point in history, we could say that she defined her future successes by the belief and confidence from that match.

#5. Juan Martin del-Potro – 2008 US Open final
Final results; 3-6, 7-6,4-6,7-6,6-2                    against; Roger Federer

Despite his recent ups and downs and the wrist injuries he suffered after what could be described as his best season ever, del Potro managed to thrill his way unto our list with his win over Roger Federer in the finals of the US Open. This was around the time Federer had lost at Wimbledon and he was not looking forward to any more disappointments in a Grand Slam final, let alone at the US Open. You needed luck, or even better, talent and loads of it to win. Delpo wasn’t going to leave the Argentinean fans unhappy. He dug deep within himself to produce the classy finish. That win set him apart from the rest and threw him right unto our list.

#4.Li Na -2011 French Open final
Final results; 6–4, 7–6(7–0)  
against;Francesca Schiavone
Being up 4-0 in the second set tie break, Li Na had the upper hand and had no intention coming second best. In her post match interview, she said all she was thinking at the tie break was “Trust yourself, believe in yourself, you can do this”. That’s a feeling you get rarely in life and if it’s at a grand event like the French Open, you know you’re making history. Being the first Asian ever to win a major, she stands among the greats to have won the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

Learn how to play tennis, read this; Master the tennis volley

#3.Rafael Nadal- 2008 Wimbledon final
Final results; 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7          against; Roger Federer
Regarded as one of the greatest matches of all time, Rafael Nadal faced his biggest opposition at the time in Roger Federer. From the very beginning of the match, both players kept on going at each other with Nadal winning the first set on a Federer backhand error. After taking the first two sets however, he faced some stiff resistance from the 5 time defending champion who came back to level the match by winning the third and fourth sets. If there was ever a time in tennis where Federer lost just a little bit of confidence, this would be that moment. Defeating Federer on the Swiss Maestro’s favorite surface was definitely what established Nadal as a threat to Federer’s reign. It ended up being the first time the Spaniard won another Grand Slam event besides the French Open.

Wimbledon 2008 final

#2 Novak Djokovic- 2012 Australian Open
Final results; 5-7,6-4,6-2,5-7,7-5                           against;  Rafael Nadal

For a very long time to come, this could be the biggest match played at the Australian Open. Djokovic was to defend his title and prove that his previous win was not a fluke and he was to do this against the fiercest opposition he could face in Nadal. Entering the match, the commentators said “Nadal has clearly nothing to lose.” It was Djokovic who had to be the tenser of the two despite his winning streak against the Mallorcan at the time. After hearing “Vamos!” the first time in the match, I knew we were in for a treat. The pair did not disappoint and set new Grand Slam final records in their encounter.
 With just one more error from Nadal, Djokovic served out the match and proved himself a true champion ready to stay in the top three. 


#1 Roger Federer- 2009 French Open

Final results; 6–1, 7–6(1), 6–4    
against; Robin Soderling
Believe it or not, this is number 1. In 2009, Federer was back. He knew he had to make the most of his opportunities before they slipped away. This was a guy who had won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open on separate occasions. All he needed was a win on the French clays to end a life-long quest of winning a Career Grand Slam, and he found that break. Robin Soderling of Sweden was on an incredible run and kept Nadal at bay from making the finals. Knowing the likes of ‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras and the great John McEnroe among others were unable to ever win this championship, all that remained was for Soderling to repeat his feat against Federer but at that time, there was no denying FedEx. All the hard work finally paid off and with just this one win on the most difficult surface to master, the talks of Federer being quite possibly, the greatest tennis player ever, begun.

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