5 most epic tennis matches of all time

Many of the most riveting sporting events in human history have been described by those who witnessed it as “back and forth.” Tennis, by definition, is a back and forth game. When titans of the court clash we are often witnesses to some of the most awe inspiring athletic feats imaginable. Tennis has delivered a number of epic clashes throughout history.

Debates will rage on for years, even decades, about which matches were the greatest of all time. This is only natural as determining the greatest match of all time is a matter of speculation and opinion. We all have our own opinion. The following represent five entries that can be considered five of the greatest tennis matches of all time.

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Wimbledon 2012: Federer downs Djokovic, nears top world ranking

For the first time since early in 2010, a men’s Grand Slam trophy will be engraved with a name other than Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, thanks to Roger Federer’s victory over the latter in the 2012 Wimbledon semifinals on Friday.  Djokovic and Nadal had combined to win the last nine major tournaments, going all the way back to the 2010 Australian Open, but Wimbledon 2012 shall feature a new champion.

While Nadal equaled his career-worst performance in a major with a shocking second-round exit, Roger Federer cruised to a four-set victory over Djokovic, knocking out the defending champion with relative ease.  Thanks to Nadal’s early departure, Federer will now be favored to take home his seventh Wimbledon title, which would tie Pete Sampras for the most of all time.

Even more surprising, however, is that Federer’s dominating victory will give him a chance to claim the world’s top ranking for the third time in his career, [Read more…]

Wimbledon semifinal preview: Djokovic-Federer, Murray-Tsonga

With 11 days of Wimbledon behind us, four of the world’s top five players stand just one victory away from a spot in the final.  While Rafael Nadal’s absence will make the winner of the Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer matchup the likely championship favorite, either Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will also capitalize on the Spaniard’s early exit by sneaking into his first Wimbledon final.  Let’s take a closer look at what to expect in these two highly competitive matchups.

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The world’s top player hasn’t had quite the blistering start to 2012 that he did to 2011, having won just two titles in eight tournaments after winning the first seven and nine of the first 10 in 2011. [Read more…]

Nadal out early at Wimbledon: Door open for Federer, Murray?

With Rafael Nadal’s shocking loss Thursday at Wimbledon, the door might just be cracked open for Roger Federer to make one last run, as he seeks a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title.

Nadal fell in five sets in Wimbledon’s second round—tying his earliest exit in a Grand Slam tournament in his career—to the No. 100-ranked player in the world, Lukas Rosol, the lowest ranked player to ever beat Nadal.  While his early departure could make it easier for world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to take home his second consecutive Wimbledon title, it may just help a less likely champion, like Federer or Andy Murray, come out on top. [Read more…]

Roger Federer’s Window Closing?

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By Anthony Zilis

In a matter of days, tennis champion Roger Federer may win his 15th Grand Slam tennis tournament, passing Pete Sampras for most all-time.

If he wins his sixth Wimbledon, Federer’s accomplishments will, undoubtedly, vault him into discussions including the top sports champions of all time. Comparisons will be made to Tiger Woods, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, and, of course, Sampras himself.

But even if Federer wins that gleaming trophy on center court Sunday afternoon at the All-England club, I just can’t bring myself to put him into that pantheon of seemingly invincible, unflappable athletes.

When I envision Federer in that group, my mind takes me back to Sunday, February 1, the day of the Australian Open final. After what had thus far been a great match, I watched in amazement as Rafael Nadal dismantled the three-time champion 6-2 in the fifth set. It was the third time in four Grand Slam finals Nadal had beaten Federer, and it was safe to say that Nadal was now, undisputably, the greatest player in tennis.

As Nadal celebrated his victory, both players were summoned to the podium to accept their first and second place trophies. Federer stepped to the microphone to address the crowd, but after fighting through a few words, the sounds just stopped coming. This man, who has been lauded as one of the classiest athletes in sports, known for his eloquence, if not arrogance, in victory, was speechless.

“God, it’s killing me,” Federer said as he tried to hold back tears. “Maybe I’ll try again later.”

That moment showed it all. Federer knew it and we all knew it– the man who had recently been measured against Tiger Woods had been dethroned in the midst of his prime.

Federer eventually came back up to the microphone, and said all of the things he should have said in the first place. But the message had been sent.

This wasn’t a one-match wonder. Nadal had done it on all surfaces. First his favorite, clay, then on Federer’s favorite, grass, and then finally on what had been his Achilles’ heel, the hard court.

Nadal was, inarguably, the better player.

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Imagine Woods, in his prime, being beaten consistently by some young hotshot, or Jordan being overtaken by some younger player while he wore a Bulls uniform. Their mystique just wouldn’t have been the same.

As tears streamed down Federer’s face, he surely knew that his legacy had been changed forever.

Yes, he won the French Open, completing the career slam, an amazing feat even with an injured Nadal out in the quarterfinals. And yes, he may win another Wimbledon, with Nadal out. He’ll have won the most Grand Slams ever and he should be known as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

But in order to get back into the conversation for the greatest champion of all-time, Federer will have to prove, unmistakably, that he is the best of his era. In my eyes, the only way he can do that is to beat a healthy Nadal consistently in Grand Slam finals.

And with a tennis players’ shelf life, that’s going to be difficult. Consider – Sampras turned 29 shortly before the 2000 US Open, when he won his second-to-last Grand Slam championship. Federer will turn 28 before this year’s US Open.

His window may be closing more swiftly than it seems.

If he doesn’t show he can beat Nadal, he’ll be known as a great tennis player. But to be known as one of the greatest champions, an athlete has to uphold nearly impossible standards.    That athlete must transcend his sport, while being the best in it.

That athlete may just be a young lefty from Spain.