This is my seventh installment of the COVID-19 sports reflection lists that have become so popular on this blog. To read the previous three articles in this anthology, you can click on the following links: the greatest college football regular season games by year, the greatest college football postseason games by year, the greatest Wake Forest games by year, NCAA tournament upset analysis, ranking every NCAA tournament, and the greatest NCAA tournament games by year. As you can see, I have already done a lot with college sports in the past few months, so I thought I would branch out and look at the pro sports. I considered doing a ranking of the greatest NFL game in every season, but I came to find out that list already exists, and I am in the business of creating analyses that have either never been done before or publicized online. That is why I turned to my favorite sport outside of college basketball and college football, tennis, for my next two articles. I have scoured the internet, as well as other sources, and have not find anyone that has compiled a thorough list of the best tennis match of every year from the first grand slam in 1877 to today. There have been many rankings of the greatest matches of all-time (Bleacher Report, Tennis Predict, The Top Tens, Sports Retriever, Steve Flink’s well-written book, and USA Today) which I have utilized in my analysis, but no one to my knowledge, has actually selected the best match for every year mainstream tennis has been played like you will see below.
I established a few ground rules going into this and the biggest one is that grand slam matches are so much more meaningful that other tour matches that the list is almost entirely composed of matches played in the four majors. There have been a few epic battles in the Davis Cup, Olympic Games, and other events which are featured on here, but all but nine matches on the list are from either the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, or US Open. As a result, every match on this list is played under a best of five set format instead of the best of three that you typically see in regular tournaments.
I took into account several factors when determining which match was truly the best for a particular year, including the match’s significance in determining the ultimate tournament champion (finals inherently mean more), the improbability of the final outcome, and the overall excitement of the match. Without further ado, here is my selection for the match of the year for every year tennis has been played. The matches in bold I have listed are my selections for the best of that particular decade, and as always feel free to comment or debate.
|1877||Spencer Gore defeats Francis Langham 6-3, 6-2, 5-6, 6-1 (Wimbledon QF)|
The first ever grand slam tourney (see bracket above) was won by Spencer Gore who had to hold off a stiff four set challenge from Francis Langham to get past the quarterfinal round.
|1878||Robert Erskine defeats Charles Hamilton 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-5 (Wimbledon QF)|
Erskine (pictured above after his retirement) survives this nail-biter en route to a runner-up finish.
|1879||John Hartley defeats Robert Erskine 6-4, 6-5, 5-6, 0-6, 6-5 (Wimbledon 2nd Round)|
Hartley (pictured above) wins tourney after surviving this early round battle with the previous year’s runner-up.
|1880||Otway Woodhouse defeats George Montgomery 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 5-6, 6-1 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
The first five set Wimbledon semifinal.
|1881||William Renshaw defeats Herbert Lawford 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 5-6, 6-3 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Renshaw (pictured above) pulls out this five set war en route to his first of seven Wimbledon titles.
|1882||William Renshaw defeats Ernest Renshaw 6-1, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 (Wimbledon Final)|
The first-ever five set Wimbledon final featured an epic battle between brothers (pictured above). The London Standard called it possibly the finest display of grass court tennis anyone has ever seen.
|1883||William Renshaw defeats Ernest Renshaw 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
Renshaw pulls a Wimbledon three-peat with a second consecutive five set finals win over his brother. Their Centre Court match that year is pictured above.
|1884||Herbert Lawford defeats Charles Grindstead 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, 9-7 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Lawford (pictured above) wins a tight four setter before losing the final to William Renshaw.
|1885||Joseph Clark defeats Robert Beeckman 6-2, 1-6, 8-6 (US Open Second Round)|
The US Open finally makes an appearance on the list! In this fifth annual US National Championships Clark edges out future Rhode Island governor Beeckman (pictured above) en route to a semifinal run.
|1886||Herbert Lawford defeats Ernest Lewis 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Lawford ended up losing in the final to William Renshaw but he had to win a dog fight in the All Comers Final just to get there.
|1887||Joseph Clark defeats Fred Mansfield 3-6, 6-2, 6-8, 6-1, 6-4 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
Clark makes his third and final US Open semifinal thanks to this comeback victory.
|1888||Ernest Renshaw defeats Ernest Lewis 7-9, 6-1, 8-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Ernest Renshaw (pictured above) breaks out of his brother’s shadow to win his first and only grand slam title in 1888. He had to win this tight four-setter to get to the final.
|1889||William Renshaw defeats Harry Barlow 3-6, 5-7, 8-6, 10-8, 8-6 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Renshaw fights off five match points and overcomes a 5-0 fifth set deficit to win this All Comers Final. William then beat his brother Ernest to retain his Wimbledon title.
|1890||Willoughby Hamilton defeats Harry Barlow 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Hamilton outlasts Barlow in a classic five set marathon en route to his only Wimbledon title (pictured above).
|1891||Oliver Campbell defeats Clarence Hobart 2-6, 7-5, 7-9, 6-1, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Campbell (pictured above) wins his second of three consecutive US Open titles thanks to this epic victory.
|1892||Joshua Pim defeats Ernest Lewis 2-6, 5-7, 9-7, 6-3, 6-2 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Pim (pictured above) comes back from a two set to none deficit to make his first Wimbledon Final. He would lose the final the following day but then would go on to win back to back titles in 1893-94.
|1893||Edward Hall defeats Charles Sands 10-8, 3-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 (US Open Third Round)|
Hall, who was Eleanor Roosevelt’s uncle, beat Sands, who would go on to win an Olympic Gold Medal in golf in 1900, in his only Wimbledon appearance.
|1894||Ernest Lewis defeats Herbert Baddely 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Baddely won the doubles event with his brother Wilfred but couldn’t make it a double due to this heartbreaking loss.
|1895||Wilfred Baddely defeats Wilberforce Eaves 4-6, 2-6, 8-6, 6-2, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
The first successful comeback from two sets to none down in a Wimbledon Final happened here as Baddely (pictured above) overcomes a brutal start to turn the momentum in a tight 3rd set and then take over the match from there.
|1896||Harold Mahony defeats Wilfred Baddely 6-2, 6-8, 5-7, 8-6, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
Baddely suffers a cruel reversal of fortune as he loses a tight five set Wimedon final after leading two sets to one, just a year after winning the Wimbledon title after coming back from two sets to none. Mahony (pictured above) was the last Scot to win Wimbledon for 117 years until Murray broke through in 2013.
|1897||Robert Wrenn defeats Wilberforce Eaves 4-6, 8-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
For the first-time ever, a delegation of British players comes to New York for the US Open. One of these Brits, Eaves (pictured above), comes up short in a five-set war just like he did in the match of the year two years before in the Wimbledon final. Sadly, Eaves never won a grand slam title.
|1898||Laurence Doherty defeats Harold Mahony 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 2-6, 14-12 (Wimbledon Final)|
Doherty (pictured above) knocks off the Scottish champion from 1896 in this five set epic. Unfortunately, Doherty would go on to lose a five setter to his older brother Reginald in the tourney final.
|1899||Reginald Doherty defeats Arthur Gore 1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
Doherty (pictured above) successfully defends his Wimbledon title by coming back from two sets to love down in the championship match against Gore.
|1900||George Wrenn defeats Arthur Gore 9-7, 1-6, 0-6, 6-2 6-2 (US Open Semifinal)|
Gore loses a 5th set grand slam heartbreaker for the second consecutive year, this time across the pond in the US Open against the American Wrenn.
|1901||Arthur Gore defeats George Hillyard 6-1, 2-6, 4-6, 8-6, 6-2 (Wimbledon Final)|
Gore overcomes the forementioned grand slam disappointments to win this five set epic en route to the first of his three Wimbledon titles.
|1902||Henry Wilson-Fox defeats Ernest Wills 6-0, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 8-6 (Wimbledon Second Round)|
Two men that would gain greater notoriety off the tennis court (Wilson-Fox in business and development and Wills in politics) in this epic five set duel.
|1903||Bob Huntington defeats Edgar Leonard 9-11, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 (US Open 4th Round)|
Huntington (pictured above) overcomes a two set deficit to win this five-setter in what would end up being the last deep run in a grand slam singles draw for his career.
|1904||William Clothier defeats William Larned 6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 (US Open Semifinal)|
Clothier, the first president of the tennis hall of fame (pictured above), knocks off a seven time US Open champion in Larned in this classic five set war.
|1905||Norman Brookes defeats Sydney Smith 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
The Aussie Brookes (pictured above) makes the first deep run by a foreigner at the All England Club with this five set victory.
|1906||Francis Fisher defeats Rodney Heath 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 (Australian Open First Round)|
Fisher (pictured above), the champion of the first-ever Australian Open, which was played in 1905 is ousted in the first round the following year in this first-ever five set Aussie Open match.
|1907||Norman Brookes defeats Karl Behr 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1 (Wimbledon Fourth Round)|
Brookes holds on for dear life en route to the first-ever non-British Wimbledon title. Brookes and partner Anthony Wilding would also win the Wimbledon doubles title in the same tournament with a straight set win over Behr and fellow American Beals Wright (final pictured above). Behr’s fortunes would improve five years later when he survived the sinking of the Titantic.
|1908||Arthur Gore defeats Herbert Barrett 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Gore wins the second of his three Wimbledon titles by holding off a valiant comeback effort from his doubles partner Barrett (actual match photo pictured above).
|1909||Arthur Gore defeats Major Ritchie 6-8, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 (Wimbledon Final)|
Gore comes back from two sets to love down to win his final Wimbledon title and become the oldest winner in the tournament’s history at age 41.
|1910||Beals Wright defeats Edward Whitney 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 (US Open Semifinal)|
Wright (pictured above), the former US Open champ and Olympic Gold medalist outlasts Whitney, a future NCAA national champion, in this five set duel.
|1911||Beals Wright defeats Nathaniel Niles 6-8, 1-6, 6-3, 10-8, 7-5 (US Open Quarterfinal|
Wright wins a five set US Open war for the second consecutive year, this time over Nathaniel Niles who was also a national champion in figure skating.
|1912||James Parke defeats Alfred Beamish 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 (Australian Open Final)|
Parke (pictured above) becomes the first European winner of this event by outlasting his fellow Brit Beamish in what turned out to be the only grand slam final in either of these man’s careers.
|1913||Maurice McLoughlin defeats Otto Froitzheim 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 (Davis Cup Semifinal)|
The U.S. wins its first Davis Cup in ten years thanks to this come from behind upset of the 1908 silver medalist. The hero McLoughlin is pictured above.
|1914||Norman Brookes defeats Otto Froitzheim 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 4-6, 8-6 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Frotizheim (pictured above) loses another five set heartbreaker (see 1913 match of the year) setting up Brookes to claim his second Wimbledon and the last of his three grand slam titles.
|1915||Horace Rice defeats Clarence Todd 4-6, 2-6, 8-6, 6–1, 7-5 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Rice (pictured above) wins this five set epic with the man he would partner up with to win the tournament’s doubles championship just a few days later.
|1916||Richard Williams defeats William Johnston 4-6, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
Williams, who survived the Titantic four years earlier, beats the defending champion Johnston in the only grand slam final of the year, as all other majors were cancelled because of World War I.
|1917||Robert Murray defeats Craig Biddle 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
This not only was the only five set match of the U.S. Open but this was the only five set match of all the grand slam events, as all other majors were cancelled again because of the First World War. Murray (pictured above) would go on to win this event a few days later to claim the first of his consecutive US Open crowns.
|1918||Bill Tilden defeats Robert Hall 3-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
“Big Bill” Tilden (pictured above) makes his first run to a grand slam final thanks to this narrow quarterfinal escape.
|1919||Algernon Kingscote defeats Chuck Garland 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 5-7, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Kingscote (pictured above), who won the Aussie Open final earlier that same year, outlasts Garland in this tight five-setter.
|1920||Bill Tilden defeats Bill Johnston 6-1, 1-6, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
Tilden had to avenge his loss to Johnston in the 1919 US Open Finals to win his first US Open title.
|1921||Bill Tilden defeats Brian Norton 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
Tilden defends his Wimbledon title with a comeback from two sets to love down. He also had to fight off a match point at 5-4 in the 5th.
|1922||Gerald Patterson defeats Jack Hawkes 8-6, 4-6, 7-5, 3-6, 10-8 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
This classic battle between grand slam champions would not be decided until deep in the fifth set. Patterson (pictured above) would go on to play another five-setter in the final but came up just short in that one.
|1923||Frank Hunter defeats Manuel de Gomar 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
The future Olympic gold medalist Hunter comes back from two sets down to beat de Gomar in the Spaniard’s only grand slam quarterfinal.
|1924||James Anderson defeats Bob Schlesinger 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3 (Australian Open Final)|
Anderson comes back from two sets to love down to win the second of his three Aussie Open crowns.
|1925||Pat Wood defeats Rice Gemmell 6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 (Australian Open Second Round)|
A great early round war between two former grand slam champions. (Wood pictured above)
|1926||Jean Borotra defeats Howard Kinsey 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 (French Open Quarterfinal)|
Borotra, one of France’s “four musketeers” as they were called (pictured above), upsets the three seed in just the second French Open that was open to non-French players.
|1927||Henri Cochet defeats Jean Borotra, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
In a battle of two of France’s four musketeers, Cochet comes back from a two set to love deficit for the second consecutive match to win his first of two Wimbledon titles.
|1928||Henri Cochet defeats Frank Hunter 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
Cochet wins his fourth grand slam and first US Open title with this come from behind victory.
|1929||Rene Lacoste defeats Jean Borotra 6-3, 2-6, 6-0, 2-6, 8-6 (French Open Final)|
Lacoste (pictured above) wins his second five set French Open final in a three year span, as he had to go five to beat Bill Tilden in the 1927 French Open Final as well.
|1930||Bill Tilden defeats Jean Borotra 0-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Big Bill overcomes a first set goose egg to win in five en route to the last of his ten grand slam titles.
|1931||Ellsworth Vines defeats Fred Perry 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 (US Open Semifinal)|
Vines, the top seeded American (pictured above) comes back from the dead to beat the top seeded foreigner (the tournament used two different groups of seeding for a brief period of time) en route to his first grand slam title. This was also the legendary Perry’s first US Open semifinal appearance.
|1932||Rene Lacoste defeats Sidney Wood 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 6-8, 7-5 (French Open Third Round)|
An aging Rene Lacoste (pictured above) upsets the third seeded American in this early round five set classic.
|1933||Jack Crawford defeats Ellsworth Vines 4-6, 11-9, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
The top two seeds of the tourney hookup to produce an epic Wimbledon Final. The winner Crawford is pictured above.
|1934||Gottfried von Cramm defeats Jack Crawford 6-4, 7-9, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 (French Open Final)|
Von Cramm, who was later jailed for his homosexuality by the Nazi government in 1938, wins the first of his two French Open titles in this five set upset of the two seed.
|1935||Jack Crawford defeats Adrian Quiat 6-1, 1-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Crawford, the second seeded Aussie, goes the distance to beat his countryman en route to the last of his six grand slam titles.
|1936||Fred Perry defeats Don Budge 2-6, 6-2, 8-6, 1-6, 10-8 (US Open Final)|
Perry fights off two match points to win the final grand slam title of his illustrious career and the last grand slam title won by any British male until Andy Murray broke through in the 2012 U.S. Open.
|1937||Don Budge defeats Gottfried Von Cramm 6-8, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 8-6 (Davis Cup Final)|
Don Budge pulls off the tennis equivalent of Miracle on Ice by winning the deciding match for the United States in the finals over Nazi-controlled Germany. The two men are pictured together above.
|1938||George Holland defeats Henner Henkel 1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 (Australian Open Third Round)|
Holland, the up and coming Aussie, upsets the third seeded Hennel, who had just won the French Open the year prior, in five grueling sets. Hennell died just five years after this match during World War II while fighting for Nazi Germany in the Battle of Stalingrad.
|1939||Bobby Riggs defeats Elwood Cooke 2-6, 8-16, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 (Wimbledon Final)|
Four decades before playing in The Battle of the Sexes against Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs (pictured above) won this five set thriller to claim the last Wimbledon title before the tourney took a seven year hiatus because of World War II.
|1940||Donald McNeill defeats Bobby Riggs 4-6, 6-8, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 (US Open Final)|
Don McNeill (pictured above) wins an epic five setter against fellow American Riggs in this battle between the top two seeds in the tournament.
|1941||Bobby Riggs defeats Francis Kovacs 8-6, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Riggs wins the last of his three grand slam titles with this five set victory over fellow countryman Kovacs, who was making his only grand slam finals appearance.
|1942||Ted Schroeder defeats Frank Parker 8-6, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Schroeder wins the first of his two grand slam titles by surviving this five set war of attrition against Parker who would go on to win four grand slams in his own.
|1943||Joseph Hunt defeats Jack Kramer 6-3, 6-8, 10-8 6-0 (US Open Final)|
An epic 10-8 third set turned the match in Hunt’s favor but Hunt (pictued above) struggled to close things out in the fourth as leg cramps caused him to collapse during the match’s final point. Sadly, this would be Joseph Hunt’s only grand slam title as he would die in an airplane crash just two years later during World War II.
|1944||Bill Talbert defeats Pancho Segura 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-8, 6-3 (US Open Semifinal)|
Talbert (pictured above) upsets the top seeded Segura in this five set victory, which is particularly impressive given that Talbert was a Type 1 diabetic.
|1945||Elwood Cooke defeats Sidney Wood 10-12, 7-5, 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
Fourteen years after winning his only grand slam title, Sidney Wood makes a Cinderella run as an unseeded entry to the US Open quarterfinals. Cooke ended his hopes of getting any further though in this five set epic.
|1946||Yvon Petra defeats Geoff Brown 6-2, 6-4, 7-9, 5-7, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Petra claims his only grand slam triumph with this five set victory in the finals of the first Wimbledon played in seven years due to the Second World War. His post-match celebration is captured above.
|1947||Dinny Pails defeats John Bromwich 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 8-6 (Australian Open Final)|
Dinny Pails (pictured above), who may have the best name of anyone on this list, won his only grand slam title thanks to this nail biting victory, where he needed extra games to win both the fourth and fifth sets.
|1948||Bob Falkenberg defeats John Bromwich 7-5, 0-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
Falkenberg, who is the first player on this list who is still living, upsets the second seeded Bromwich in this five set marathon to win his only grand slam title.
|1949||Pancho Gonzales defeats Ted Schroeder 16-18, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
Can you imagine playing a 34 game first set and then having to play four additional sets after that? That is exactly what these two warriors did here, as Gonzales (pictured above during the post-match trophy presentation) comes back from a two set deficit to win his last grand slam title before turning pro.
|1950||Budge Patty defeats Jaroslav Drobny 6–1, 6-2, 3-6, 5-7, 7-5 (French Open Final)|
Patty (pictured above) wins the first of his two grand slams in 1950 with this five set upset of the tournament’s top seed. The Arkansas native is still living as of the publication of this article.
|1951||Herbie Flam defeats Frank Sedgman 2-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
The American Flam takes out the tourney’s top seed with this come from behind upset win in a match where the winner only won three games combined in the first two sets.
|1952||Eric Sturgess defeats Dick Savitt 6-2, 6-8, 4-6, 8-6, 6-3 (French Open Quarterfinal)|
The South African outlasts the American Savitt (pictured above) in this epic clash of grand slam champions.
|1953||Lew Hoad defeats Tony Trabert 13-11, 6-3, 2-6, 3-6, 7-5 (Davis Cup Final)|
Australia wins its fourth consecutive Davis Cup title thanks to this narrow victory by Hoad. Pre-match photo pictured above.
|1954||Mervyn Ross defeats Ken Rosewall 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 1-6, 7-5 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Ross (pictured above) upsets fellow Aussie and top seed Rosewall en route to the first of his two grand slam singles titles.
|1955||Kurt Nielsen defeats Ken Rosewall 11-9, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Nielsen, the Dane (pictured above), stuns the second seeded Rosewall to make his second Wimbledon final. Unfortunately, Nielsen ended up as the runner-up in both tournaments.
|1956||Vic Seixas defeats Mike Davies 6-3, 3-6, 8–10, 6-3, 7-5 (US Open First Round)|
Davies, who later became a pioneer for the modern pro tour, gives the fourth seeded American Seixas (pictured above) the biggest early round scare of his career.
|1957||Sven Davidson defeats Ashley Cooper 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 (French Open Semifinal)|
Cooper had to win a five setter in the quarters and then ran out of gas in this semifinal marathon. Davidson (pictured above) then cruised in the final over the American Flam.
|1958||Pancho Gonzales defeats Lew Hoad 3-6, 4-6, 14-12, 6-1, 6-4 (US Pro Tennis Finals)|
This was an elite tournament from the late 20’s until the late 60’s and Pancho won his sixth in a row with this epic come from behind win.
|1959||Alex Olmedo defeats Barry MacKay 3-6, 8-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
The legendary tennis broadcaster and personality, Barry MacKay, was outlasted by the second seeded Olmedo en route to the Peruvian American’s first grand slam title.
|1960||Rod Laver defeats Neale Fraser 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6, 8-6 (Australian Open Final)|
Laver (pictured above) comes all the way back from 2 sets to love down to win the first of his 19 major titles over his countryman Fraser.
|1961||Rod Laver defeats Pierre Darmon 8-6, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Second Round)|
Laver, who went on to win his first of four Wimbledons a little over a week later, had to survive a massive second round scare from the up and coming Frenchman Darmon.
|1962||Rod Laver defeats Roy Emerson 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 9-7, 6-2 (French Open Final)|
In this epic matchup of Australian tennis legends, Laver came all the way back from a brutal beating in the first two sets to claim his first French Open title.
|1963||Wilhelm Bungert defeats Roy Emerson 8-6, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
The unseeded German scores a massive upset over the tournament’s top seed who would go on to win the next two Wimbledon titles.
|1964||Roy Emerson defeats Chuck McKinley 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 (Davis Cup Final)|
In the final match of the championship tie, Emerson (pictured above) comes from a set down to beat the 1963 Wimbledon champ and clinch the cup for the Aussies.
|1965||Arthur Ashe defeats Roy Emerson 13-11, 6-4, 10-12, 6-2 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
Arthur Ashe announces his arrival to the tennis world with this shocking upset of the tourney’s top seed and defending champion.
|1966||Roy Emerson defeats Bill Bowrey 9-7, 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 9-7 (Australian Open Quarterfinal)|
Emerson, who you can see was involved in more than his fair share of classic matches, outlasted his upset-minded countrymen en route to sixth straight Aussie Open crown.
|1967||Roy Emerson defeats Tony Roche 6-3, 4-6, 15-13, 13-15, 6-2 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Emerson wins his record seventh straight Aussie Open crown thanks to this epic semifinal victory over countryman Roche which featured two different 15-13 sets.
|1968||Arthur Ashe defeats Tom Okker 14-12, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
Ashe wins his first of three career grand slams with this marathon victory over the man they called “the flying Dutchman”.
|1969||Pancho Gonzales defeats Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 (Wimbledon First Round)|
41 year old Gonazles (pictured on the right) wins what was at the time the longest match in Wimbledon history.
|1970||John Newcombe defeats Roy Emerson 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 6-2, 11-9 (Wimbledon Quarterinal)|
An aging Emerson makes one last grand slam run before getting ousted by the second-seeded Newcombe (pictured above) in this classic five-setter.
|1971||Ken Rosewall defeats Cliff Richey 6-8, 5-7, 6-4, 9-7, 7-5 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
Rosewall holds off the hard charging Cliff Richey by saving six break points in the fifth set.
|1972||Ken Rosewall defeats Rod Laver 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 (1972 WCT Finals)|
23 million Americans watched these two Australians face off in an epic five set war.
|1973||Roger Taylor defeats Bjorn Borg 6-1, 6-8, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
Bjorn Borg makes his first deep run at a grand slam before falling to the hometown hero Roger Taylor (pictured above) in a five set war.
|1974||Jimmy Connors defeats Phillip Dent 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 (Wimbledon Second Round)|
Third-seeded Connors had to survive this massive second round scare from an unheralded and unseeded Aussie en route to Connors first-ever grand slam title.
|1975||Arthur Ashe defeats Jimmy Connors 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Ashe becomes first African-American to win Wimbledon with stunning upset of Connors.
|1976||Jimmy Connors defeats Bjorn Borg 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
The first of five Borg U.S. Open Finals heartbreaks, which ended up being the only grand slam tournament that he failed to win.
|1977||Bjorn Borg defeats Jimmy Connors 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
These two superstars of the 1970’s one again hookup in an epic five-set grand slam final.
|1978||Jimmy Connors defeats Adriano Panatta 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 7-5 (US Open Fourth Round)|
Connors comes back from a break down in the fifth set to knock off Panatta en route to winning the first US Open played on hard courts.
|1979||Bjorn Borg defeats Roscoe Tanner 6-7, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Borg wins the fourth of his five straight Wimbledon titles with this epic victory over the hard serving American lefty.
|1980||Bjorn Borg defeats John McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6 (Wimbledon Final)|
The last great wooden racket battle in tennis history on the men’s side. Borg wins his fifth Wimbledon in a row here.
|1981||John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 (Wimbledon Final)|
McEnroe finally ends Borg’s five year reign of terror at Wimbledon with come from behind victory.
|1982||John McEnroe defeats Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6 (Davis Cup Quarterfinal)|
McEnroe wins the deciding match of the tie in front of a raucous home crowd in St. Louis.
|1983||Yannick Noah defeats Mats Wilander 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (French Open Final)|
Noah’s victory was historic in that he is both the last Frenchman to win his home slam and the last player to win a major title with a wooden racket thanks to this narrow three set upset over Wilander.
|1984||Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 (French Open Final)|
One of the greatest upsets/comeback in the history of grand slam finals.
|1985||Stefan Edberg defeats Ivan Lendl 6-7, 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 9-7 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
In the first-ever meeting between these two at a grand slam, Edberg edges Lendl despite being down a service break in the fifth set. Edberg would win the final two days later to claim his first career grand slam title.
|1986||Pat Cash defeats Mikael Perrnfors 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 (Davis Cup Final)|
Cash, who earned all three points for Australia in this Davis Cup championship tie, clinches the cup for the Aussies with a two set to love comeback victory.
|1987||Jimmy Connors defeats Mikael Pernfors 1-6, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 (Wimbledon Fourth Round)|
Connors pulls off perhaps the biggest comeback in tennis history trailing 6-1, 6–1, and 5-1 and coming back to win in five.
|1988||Mats Wilander defeats Ivan Lendl 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
Wilander knocks off the three-time defending champion Lendl to win his last grand slam title and only US Open. This match also set the record for longest US Open final in the history of the tournament.
|1989||Michael Chang defeats Ivan Lendl 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3,6-3 (French Open Fourth Round)|
Chang’s epic underhand serve match where he came back from two sets to love down to knock off the top seed en route to his only grand slam title.
|1990||Stefan Edberg defeats Boris Becker 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Edberg holds on for dear life to beat Becker for the second Wimbledon title of his career.
|1991||Jimmy Connors defeats Aaron Krickstein 3-6, 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (US Open Fourth Round)|
The best match in Connors’ epic Cinderella run to the US Open semifinal,as a 39 year old wildcard entry.
|1992||Andre Agassi defets Goran Ivanisevic 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
The long-haired Agassi bursts on to the scene as an international celebrity by winning his first grand slam title in this five set war over Ivanisevic.
|1993||Pete Sampras defeats Andre Agassi 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
Sampras holds on for dear life to beat his arch rival en route to his first of seven Wimbledon titles.
|1994||Andre Agassi defeats Michael Chang 6-1, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 (US Open Fourth Round)|
Agassi outlasts his countryman Chang en route to becoming the first unseeded player to win the US Open since 1966.
|1995||Pete Sampras defeats Andre Agassi 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 (US Open Final)|
Sampras ends Agassi’s 26 match win streak to win his third US Open and take the upper hand in this epic 90’s tennis rivalry.
|1996||Pete Sampras defeats Alex Corretja 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
An exhausted and sickly Sampras, who literally vomited on the court during the match, comes from behind to win an epic five setter and then to successfully defend his US Open title a few days later.
|1997||Tim Henman defeats Paul Haarhuis 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 14-12 (Wimbledon Third Round)|
The most epic of Henman’s five set Wimbledon wars. The commoners who flocked the middle Sunday seats on Centre Court were absolutely raucous that day. It was perhaps the best tennis atmosphere I have ever witnessed.
|1998||Pete Sampras defeats Goran Ivanisevic 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 (Wimbledon Final)|
Sampras wins the fifth of his seven Wimbledon titles by outlasting the big-serving Croatian in a five-set war.
|1999||Andre Agassi defeats Andriy Medvedev 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 (French Open Final)|
This was a legendary match in so many ways: it marked the completion Agassi’s completion of the career grand slam; it was Agassi’s first grand slam in the second act of his career; it was an incredible comeback from the dead; and it marked the first-time anyone had played a grand slam final in what appeared to be boxer shorts (see photo of Medvedev above).
|2000||Andre Agassi defeats Pete Sampras 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Agassi gets the last grand slam victory over his arch rival Sampras en route to his third grand slam title in a nine month span.
|2001||Goran Ivanesevic defeats Patrick Rafter 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 (Wimbledon Final)|
The greatest tennis match ever in my opinion. Two guys gunning for their only Wimbledon title in the last grand slam final of their respective career in front of a raucous “Bonus Monday” crowd at Centre Court.
|2002||Pete Sampras defeats Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
The ultimate swan song for Pete as he knocked off his arch rival in the final grand slam tennis match of his illustrious career.
|2003||Andy Roddick defeats Younes El Aynaoui 4-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 21-19 (Australian Open Quarterfinal)|
Roddick wins this well-played marathon to reach the first grand slam semifinal of his career.
|2004||Gaston Gaudio defeats Guillermo Coria 0-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 8-6 (French Open Final)|
Gaudio becomes the most recent Grand Slam champion to come back from two sets to love to win a major final, and he did so by surviving a match point in the fifth.
|2005||Marat Safin defeats Roger Federer 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6, 9-7 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Safin wins the last slam of his career by coming from behind to best Roger Federer in his prime.
|2006||Marcos Baghdatis defeats David Nalbandian 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Baghdatis because a fan favorite with a come from behind victory over the # 4 seed en route to a Cinderella run to the Aussie Open finals as an unseeded entrant.
|2007||Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 (Wimbledon Final)|
Fed’s final Wimbledon title in his incredible five year reign of terror at the All England Club.
|2008||Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 9-7 (Wimbledon Final)|
Some consider it the greatest match of all-time. They might be right, but I don’t like either guy and this is my list so I am not even going to rank it as the top match of the decade. With that being said, it has to be the # 1 match of 2008.
|2009||Roger Federer defeats Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14 (Wimbledon Final)|
Roddick’s best shot at winning Wimbledon comes up just short in this marathon server’s dual.
|2010||John Isner defeats Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 (Wimbledon First Round)|
The longest match in tennis history and the craziest sporting event I ever watched. Due to Wimbledon’s new 12-12 tiebreak rules, we will never see anything like this again in the sport.
|2011||Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 (US Open Semifinal)|
Joker comes back from a two set deficit to knock off Federer en route to his first US Open title.
|2012||Andy Murray defeats Novak Djokovic 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Murray finally breaks through to win his first grand slam title in thrilling five set fashion.
|2013||Rafael Nadal defeats Novak Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 (French Open Semifinal)|
Joker loses critical point in the 5th set by touching the net after hitting a winner.
|2014||Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Joker wins his first Wimbledon title in three years with this epic five set victory Federer.
|2015||Stan Wawrinka defeats Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 (French Open Final)|
Wawrinka comes from behind to win his second of three majors and only french open. He is still the only man outside of the big 3 (Fed, Joker, and Nadal) to win a French Open title since 2004.
|2016||Andy Murray defeats Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 (Olympic Final)|
Murray becomes the the first person, male of female, to win two Olympic gold medals in singles tennis with this grueling four set victory that Andy called one of the toughest matches he has played to win a big event.
|2017||Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 (Australian Open Final)|
Fed wins his first grand slam in five years with a come from behind victory over his arch rival.
|2018||Kevin Anderson defeats John Isner 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Isner ends up in another marathon fifth set servers duel but comes up just short in this one. This was likely both of these guys best chances ever to win a grand slam title.
|2019||Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 (Wimbledon Final)|
The first match to ever be decided by a 5th set tiebreaker at Wimbledon may have been Federer’s last best chance at winning his 21st grand slam title.
|2020||Novak Djokovic defeats Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 (Australian Open Final)|
Joker denies Thiem his first grand slam title by coming back from a 2 set to 1 deficit for the first time in a grand slam final.
I have conducted some additional analysis to see which tournaments have held the most matches of the year/decade. The charts below depict those results. Not surprisingly, Wimbledon has hosted the most matches of the year and decade by a fairly large margin.
Best Matches by Tournament
|US Pro Tennis Champs||1|
Matches of the Decade by Tournament
The final analysis I conducted was the match of the year by player. This is an important analysis because I feel like my results accurately reflect tennis’ most iconic players. It is one thing to roll over competition to win several grand slams like the Williams’ sisters did in the early 2000’s, but the most memorable and iconic players are the ones who won a multitude of classic matches like the ones featured on this list. You will see that atop this list there is a five way tie between at least three of the most iconic players of all-time in Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, and Roger Federer.
Matches of the year by player (multiples only)
|Gottfried Von Cramm||2||1-1|
Matches of the Decade by Player (multiples only)
Stay tuned for the women’s tennis version of this same list which I will hopefully publish around the time of the French Open in a few weeks.