To celebrate Pinnacle’s 20th anniversary this series will look back over the biggest moments from our most popular sports. These are the top 10 tennis moments from the last 20 years.
Federer vs. Nadal - Wimbledon 2008
Most people will agree that the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have contested the fiercest rivalry in tennis over the last two decades. Both incredibly talented tennis players, the two have their obvious preference in terms of surfaces but have always challenged one another whenever they play.
In the 39 matches they have played to date, Nadal has come out on top on 23 occasions. They have met 12 times in a Grand Slam where again Nadal holds the advantage with nine victories (six of those in the nine Grand Slam finals they have contested).
The Wimbledon final in 2008 is perhaps the greatest match between Federer and Nadal. In an exhilarating five-set match that lasted four hours and 48 minutes, the Spaniard defeated five-time defending champion Federer with both players putting on a magnificent display of tennis.
Serena Williams’ 23rd Grand Slam
There are very few players who dominate a sport to the level Serena Williams has with tennis. Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt and Floyd Mayweather have all achieved great things within their own discipline and on January 28, 2017 Serena Williams wrote her name in the tennis history books.
Williams defeated her sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 in the 2017 Australian Open to win her 23rd Grand Slam title, surpassing Steffi Graf as the all-time leader in Grand Slam titles in the Open era.
It’s tough to see anyone surpassing this record in both the men’s and women’s game for some time - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the only two with a realistic chance on 20 and 17 titles respectively.
Andre Agassi’s retirement
There are very few names that are included in the debate of the greatest tennis player of all-time but Andre Agassi is definitely one of them. In a career spanning over 20 years, Agassi won each of the Grand Slams at least once and won 76.05% of his 1,144 professional matches.
In addition to his success on the court, Agassi’s style of play and connection with tennis fans around the world has seen him credited with playing an influential role in increasing the sport’s popularity. It’s no surprise that the American’s final match in 2006 was an emotional one.
Soderling vs. Nadal - French Open 2009
While everyone loves watching the best of the best battle it out for the biggest prizes in sport, there’s still something special about a major upset. When Robin Soderling came up against Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open, barely anyone gave the Swede a chance (including Pinnacle where he was priced at 36.00 - equating to 2.75% fair probability).
Nadal was going for a record fifth successive French Open title, was yet to lose a single match at Roland Garros and hadn’t dropped a set since the 2007 final when he met Soderling in the fourth round. Against all the odds, Soderling beat Nadal 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.
Isner vs. Mahut - Wimbledon 2010
Tennis is renowned for being a physically demanding sport. Played at an intense speed and with nowhere to hide on the court, elite players need to work on their endurance as much as their technique to compete at the highest level.
The difference between the men and women’s game at a Grand Slam (five sets compared to three sets) means the average duration of a match is slightly longer (2.5-3.5 hours for the men compared to 1.5-3 for the women). However, the match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon 2010 was something completely out of the ordinary.
The match was played over three days and on June 24, Isner won the 138th game of the fifth set to take the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6. 70-68. After 183 total games and 11 hours and five minutes of play, Isner vs. Mahut is by far the longest match in the history of tennis (the fifth set alone would have surpassed the previous record).
Djokovic vs. Nadal rally (2013 US Open Final)
The level of quality on the professional tennis circuit means that anyone is capable of pulling out a world-class shot against an opponent. Although an unforced error can often decide a point, players and fans will find more satisfaction in a shot that goes unreturned.
When Rafael Nadal met Novak Djokovic at the 2013 US Open Final the two players were on another level - the fact that the two had more than double the ATP ranking points than any other player showed just how dominant they were. Nadal came out on top in a thrilling match but one point in particular stood out in the match.
Justine Henin vs. Venus Williams - US Open 2007
Women’s matches may be shorter at a Grand Slam but the level of tennis on show still matches the men. When Justin Henin met Venus Williams in the semi-final of the 2007 US Open, the two of them played out one of the greatest matches at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Henin managed to beat Venus Williams in straight sets, a few days after doing the same to the American’s sister, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Belgian was unplayable at times and although Williams did her best to dig in, it was Henin’s infamous one-handed backhand that proved too much time and time again.
Dustin Brown hot shot (Bergamo Challenger 2016)
Although Dustin Brown won’t go down in history as one of the best tennis players to grace the court, he’ll certainly go down as one of the most entertaining.
The Jamaican-German’s long dreadlocked hair is as recognisable as his showmanship on the court and although it’s a tough ask to pick out one shot from his extensive highlight reel, his behind-the-back winner at the Bergamo Challenger in Italy in 2016 has to be near the top of the list.
Andy Murray wins Wimbledon 2013
A tennis player’s first Grand Slam title will always live long in their memory but Andy Murray’s second might be his most memorable. After victory at the US Open in 2012, Murray headed into the 2013 Tour season with plenty of confidence that he could end Britain’s 77-year wait for a male champion at SW19.
Murray, 26-years-old at the time, impressed throughout the tournament and despite a fairly tight quarter-final against Fernando Verdasco his triumph never really looked in doubt - he beat Novak Djokovic in straight sets (6-4, 7-5, 6-4) in the final to lift the trophy a year after his emotional speech in defeat a year before.
Schiavone vs. Kuznetsova - Australian Open 2011
Tennis is a fine balance between grace, power, agility and speed but the mental and physical toughness required is sometimes overlooked. If ever there was a game that epitomised what a grind a tennis match can be, it’s Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova’s fourth-round match at the 2011 Australian Open.
At four hours and 44 minutes, Schiavone vs. Kuznetsova is the second longest women’s tennis match in history (and the longest in a Grand Slam match). People may claim that it’s some way off Isner vs. Mahut but Schiavone vs. Kuznetsova is a classic in its own right - not least because the Italian saved six match points off her opponent before eventually prevailing 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.
Has your favourite moment made the list? Tweet @PinnacleSports to let us know what you think is the best tennis moment of the last 20 years.