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Five classic men’s singles Wimbledon clashes in the modern era

With the 2015 edition of Wimbledon coming up, Coral writers go back in time to relive some recent classic clashes at SW19 to get readers and punters in the mood for what is set to be another hotly-contested tournament.

We have set a benchmark from the year 2000 onwards to pick our favourite matches at the All-England Club, so here are five men’s singles epics…

2001 fourth round: Roger Federer v Pete Sampras – 7-6 (9) 5-7 6-4 6-7 (7) 7-5
This year was more famous for 125th-ranked Goran Ivanisevic becoming the first, and still only, wildcard to win Wimbledon. However, one of many subplots in 2001 was the ‘changing of the guard’ encounter between seven-time champion Sampras and an up-and-coming Grand Slam-less Swiss star named Federer (13/2 third-favourite this year).

At the time, Sampras was the top seed and heavily-fancied to defeat the young pretender in the fourth round, as he was chasing a record-equalling five consecutive SW19 title, but was taken all the way to five sets before eventually bowing out.

Sampras’ defeat should’ve perhaps been foreseen, though, as even now-pundit Barry Cowen took the American to five sets in the second round, a stage which six Brits reached that year.

The loss clearly coincided with Sampras’ decline, as he was only to win one more Grand Slam (2002 US Open) in his illustrious career. Federer, meanwhile, went no further than the next round, as he went out to ‘Tiger’ Tim Henman in the quarters, before the Briton was involved in an epic of his own, when he was knocked out yet again in the semis by Ivanisevic.

Here are highlights of the fifth set…

2008 final: Rafael Nadal v Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (7) 6-7 (10) 9-7
Federer got his comeuppance seven years later, though, as his bid to beat Bjorn Borg’s five successive Wimbledon titles was stopped by rising Spaniard Nadal, who is 12/1 to win his third SW19 title this year.

This clash in 2008 is often heralded as the greatest ever match in history, let alone a Grand Slam final, as it provided everything in four hours and 48 minutes of top tennis tension.

The final few games were played out in near darkness, but Nadal eventually triumphed, despite a Federer fightback, to become only the third person in the Open Era to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.

Watch the moment Nadal falls to floor in disbelief following his win…

2009 final: Roger Federer v Andy Roddick 5-7 7-6 (8) 7-6 (7) 3-6 16-14
Luckily for Federer, his new nemesis Nadal as unable to defend his title the following year as he had to withdraw prior to the tournament due to injury.

However, American Roddick still took the Swiss all the way in the 2009 final, with the last set being 30-games long, but couldn’t make it third time lucky in Wimbledon finals – all coming against Federer.

This match was significant for Federer as, not only did he regain the world number one spot, he became the outright highest Grand Slam winner, with 15 at the time, beating former foe Sampras.

Watch match-point of this epic…

2010 first round: John Isner v Nicolas Mahut 6-4 3-6 6-7 (9) 7-6 (7) 70-68
When people mention the 2010 Wimbledon championships, they tend to overlook Nadal’s achievement of reclaiming the title, and instead remember this first round epic dubbed ‘the endless match’.

Prior to the tournament, no one would have predicted that a clash between qualifier Mahut and 23rd seed Isner could grab so much attention, but at 11 hours and five minutes, being played over three days, it become the longest ever. The match even smashed the previous record at the time by just over four-and-a-half hours.

Isner eventually won 70-68 in the final set, that went on for more than eight hours, with both players serving over 100 aces each, but the drained American was inevitably knocked out of the next round, gaining just five games.

Relive the final moments of the three-day thriller – thankfully we haven’t given you the match in full…

2013 final: Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-5 6-4
While this was not necessarily known as an epic to neutral viewers, for home fans it was a proud moment of history, as Murray became the first British man to lift the famous trophy since Fred Perry way back in 1936. No Scottish-born player had won since Harold Mahony, meanwhile, back in 1896.

A straight sets victory for Murray (9/4 chance this year) against rival Djokovic (11/8 favourite) at least saved supporters from having to go through years of nerves watching Henman attempt to win Wimbledon.

Two-time Grand Slam champions Murray’s triumph did, however, prompt a flow of roars, tears and relief as the SW19 ghosts had finally been laid to rest.

Watch the final game of this match again…