A quintet of the most iconic and exciting grand slam deciders in men’s history…
Which match was your favourite?
US OPEN 1976
Jimmy Connors beats Bjorn Borg
As in boxing, styles make great finals and in Flushing Meadows you had Connors’ scrappy, powerful, double-handed baseline shots against the elegant technique of Borg. It made for a pulsating affair. The pair traded sets before the crucial third-set tiebreaker in which Connors fought off four set points to triumph and then take the fourth to win 3-1.
Bjorn Borg beats John McEnroe
1–6, 7–5, 6–3, 6–7 (16–18), 8–6
Dubbed the ‘War of 18-16’ – due to the epic fourth-set tiebreaker – the 21-year-old McEnroe was the devil of Centre Court because of his antics in the earlier rounds. Borg, of course, the handsome, stylish angel of tennis. The match was a cracker, lasting nearly four hours, with Borg recovering from a terrible start, McEnroe defending five match points in the fourth set breaker before the Swede triumphed in an extended fifth set.
FRENCH OPEN 1984
Ivan Lendl beats John McEnroe
3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5
McEnroe was peerless in 1984 – winning 13 titles and finishing with a record of 82-3 – however, one of those defeats was at Roland Garros, the only occasion he reached the final. Lendl was in his first grand slam final and a heavy underdog. It looked like going to form as the American took the first two sets, almost effortlessly, only to then suffer a spectacular collapse as the Czech’s brutal ground strokes buried him.
Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer
6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7
Widely considered the greatest-ever final, this was two icons of the game at their peak playing a standard perhaps conceived in coaching manuals. Federer had beaten Nadal in the 2006 and 2007 final but this was the Spaniard’s time as the Swiss’ grip on men’s tennis started to slip. Fededer’s finesse versus the Spanish bull, a rain delay, two dramatic tiebreakers and an epic final act. This was the match which had it all.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2012
Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal
5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5
At five hours 53 minutes, this wasn’t just a tennis match, it was Iron Man feats of endurance and chess Grand Master-style levels of concentration. Their US Open final in September had gone to four hours and 10 minutes but this was another level. Nadal slammed down the serves but Djokovic’s consistency of return was unrelenting. Nadal miraculously rallied in the fourth set at 4-3 down and facing three break points but the Serb outlasted him in the fifth.