Usually on the second Sunday of July, you clear your diaries. It is the men’s singles final at Wimbledon.
This year, it was very different. With Wimbledon not happening, Sue Barker and an expert panel instead reminisced over the greatest men’s finals of the Open era and counted down to their top choice.
So, we asked you to look back on the panel’s 10-match shortlist and vote for your favourite too.
There was a clear winner…
A close call – how you ranked the greatest Wimbledon women’s finals
- Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, 2008
Nadal won 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7
Star names, quality, drama, suspense… the final part of the ‘Fedal’ trilogy had the all ingredients of a blockbuster.
Federer and Nadal were ranked as the world’s best two players, with the Spanish second seed trying to end the Swiss’s five-year reign at the All England Club after losing the previous two finals.
After almost seven hours – because of rain delays – 22-year-old Nadal finally dethroned Federer as darkness descended on an enraptured Centre Court.
It lived up to the hype and it lives long in the memory. With 39% of the vote, it is your favourite Wimbledon men’s final.
- Novak Djokovic v Andy Murray, 2013
Murray wins 6-4 7-5 6-4
A little further behind with 19% is one which needs little introduction to British fans. The day the Wimbledon men’s title finally came ‘home’.
After 77 years of hurt, the ghost of Fred Perry was finally laid to rest by 26-year-old Murray.
The Scottish second seed may have landed his first Grand Slam title at the previous year’s US Open, but this was the prize that he – and the nation – really wanted.
In his way stood Serbia’s Djokovic and, although there was a wobble as he tried to close out victory, Murray won in straight sets to achieve his dream.
- Bjorn Borg v John McEnroe, 1980
Borg won 1-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 (16-18) 8-6
Two contrasting personalities going for greatness: the ice of Borg versus the fire of McEnroe.
Borg – all meditation and superstition – was going for his fifth straight Wimbledon title, with the ‘superbrat’ McEnroe ranked as the best bet to stop him.
Five sets, almost four hours and that 18-16 tie-break. The stuff of legend which was so dramatic it even spawned a Hollywood film – and took 17% of your vote.
- Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer, 2019
Djokovic wins 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3)
Last year, we thought it couldn’t get even better after an epic semi-final between Federer and Nadal. We were wrong.
Federer, approaching his 38th birthday and in pursuit of a ninth Wimbledon title, had enough gas left in the tank to push top seed Djokovic to a fifth set – and then the drama went up another notch.
The Swiss was unable to convert two match points at 8-7 in the decider, which then went to a historic tie-break at 12-12.
Djokovic took control to hold three Championship points, taking the first when Federer spooned a return. With the mood among the pro-Federer dampened, Djokovic confounded them further by grazing on a bit of the Centre Court grass to celebrate.
- Goran Ivanisevic v Pat Rafter, 2001
Ivanisevic won 6-3 3-6 6-3 2-6 9-7
Poor old Rafter. While he might feature in two of these 10 great men’s finals, the Australian ended up on the wrong side of them both.
Even he could not begrudge Croatia’s Ivanisevic victory in what became known as the ‘People’s Final’.
A washout of a final Sunday meant the showpiece was moved to the Monday without a ball being hit, allowing 10,000 fans to queue for more than 24 hours and grab a ticket which they never expected to get.
What they witnessed didn’t disappoint. Ivanisevic, a three-time beaten finalist and only playing after being given a wildcard, became the first unseeded player since Boris Becker to lift the title.
- Roger Federer v Andy Roddick, 2009
Federer won 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 16-14
Twelve months after being denied by Nadal, Federer reacquainted himself with the trophy. Not only that, he became the greatest male player of all time by claiming his 15th Grand Slam title and surpassing Pete Sampras’ seven-year record.
The Swiss had to dig deep against an in-form Roddick, however. The American held four points for a two-set lead and then battled back to force an epic fifth set as the match became the longest men’s singles final ever in terms of games played.
Thirty games and 95 minutes later, a weary Roddick finally buckled. A framed forehand looped into the stand and Federer jumped for joy.
- Bjorn Borg v John McEnroe, 1981
McEnroe won 4-6 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4
A year on from their 1980 epic, Borg and McEnroe reprised their roles. This time it was McEnroe’s day, lifting his first Wimbledon title by ending Borg’s monopoly at the All England Club.
Yet, it nearly never happened. You cannot be serious? Yes, entirely. Because 1981 was the year when McEnroe shouted that immortal line in a frenzied fury at chair umpire Edward James.
The American was fortunate, judging by accounts at the time, not to be kicked out of the Championships.
While the match “lacked the spontaneity and drama” of the previous year’s final, according to the New York Times, McEnroe didn’t care.
- Arthur Ashe v Jimmy Connors, 1975
Ashe won 6-1 6-1 5-7 6-4
Ashe was American. Connors was American. That’s about all they had in common when they lined up to play the 1975 final.
Ashe was older and wiser, Connors was younger and brasher, their polarising personalities and contrasting careers teeing up a narrative which had sports fans hooked.
Connors, 22, was the hot favourite after winning three of the four Grand Slams and losing just four times in 103 matches during the previous year.
Yet it was the wily Ashe – after concocting a plan over blackjack in a Mayfair club to get under Connors’ skin – who triumphed.
- Boris Becker v Kevin Curren, 1985
Becker won 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-3) 6-4
This was a final which turned out to be the defining moment of each man’s career.
Becker, unseeded and aged 17, became Wimbledon’s youngest men’s champion, the launchpad that rocketed him to superstar status.
Curren, seeded eighth and the overwhelming favourite, saw a concrete opportunity to earn Wimbledon immortality slip through his grasp. The South African-born, naturalised American never reached those heights again.
Neither the tournament, nor the final, was straightforward for Becker. The German said not knowing his grandad had died on the eve of the Championships ensured he maintained the mental strength to go through the fortnight, while he had to overcome injury and deficits in earlier rounds.
A brief wobble when serving for the title threatened to stall his ascension before his serve – the weapon that had helped scatter his previous opponents – helped him over the line.
10: Pat Rafter v Pete Sampras, 2000
Sampras won 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2
The moment when Sampras sealed his place, then at least, as the greatest of all time.
At 8:57pm, the camera flashes illuminated a near-dark Centre Court as the American welled up when the magnitude of his achievement hit home.
After two rain delays led to a looming threat of a Monday finish, Sampras wrapped it up in the nick of time to win a record seventh men’s title at the All England Club and an unmatched 13th major victory.
Yet history was close to taking a different turn. A pair of double faults from a nervy Sampras helped Rafter take the first-set tie-break before the Australian became rattled and failed to convert a 4-1 lead in the second-set tie-break. What might have been…