Tennis is one of the most exhilarating sports to watch, and nothing beats a legendary match that goes down in history.
From nail-biting finals to epic showdowns between the greatest players of all time, the sport has seen its fair share of unforgettable moments. In this article, we take a trip down memory lane and revisit the top 10 best tennis matches of all time. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just looking for some sports inspiration, these matches are sure to leave you on the edge of your seat. Get ready to relive some of the most incredible moments in tennis history and witness firsthand the skill, determination, and pure adrenaline that makes this sport so thrilling.
Table of Contents
- 1 10. Goran Ivanisevic v Pat Rafter – 2001 Wimbledon Final
- 2 9. Rafel Nadal v Novak Djokovic – 2013 French Open Semi-Final
- 3 8. Monica Seles v Steffi Graf – 1995 US Open Final
- 4 7. Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer – 2019 Wimbledon Final
- 5 6. John Isner v Nicolas Mahut – 2010 Wimbledon First Round.
- 6 5. Pete Sampras v Agassi – 2001 US Open Quarter Final
- 7 4. Novak Djokovic V Rafael Nadal – 2012 Australian Open Final
- 8 3. Roger Federer v Andy Roddick – 2009 Wimbledon Final
- 9 2. Bjorn Borg v John McEnroe – 1980 Wimbledon Final
- 10 1. Roger Federer V Rafael Nadal – 2008 Wimbledon Final
- 11 Summary
- 12 FAQ
10. Goran Ivanisevic v Pat Rafter – 2001 Wimbledon Final
Goran Ivanisevic Won: 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 2–6, 9–7.
This could be the ultimate fairy tale of tennis. In 2001, Goran Ivanišević, ranked No. 125, was given a wildcard entry at Wimbledon due to his previous three final losses. He went on to beat some of the biggest names in the game, including Roddick and Safin, before facing off against Patrick Rafter in the final. In a nail-biting five-set match, Ivanišević emerged victorious, becoming the first wildcard entry and lowest-ranked player to ever win Wimbledon. This was a sweet triumph for the left-handed serve specialist, who finally claimed his first and only Grand Slam title.
9. Rafel Nadal v Novak Djokovic – 2013 French Open Semi-Final
Rafael Nadal Won: 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 9-7
It was the ultimate clash: the King of Clay and the greatest clay court player of all time versus the player in the best form on the planet. The match was a spectacle of grueling groundstrokes and long rallies, with both players displaying non-stop brilliance. Each point was a battle, akin to a boxing match where both fighters aimed to knock each other out. The intensity reached a new level in the fifth set, as both players refused to give an inch. Eventually, Nadal managed to win a crucial break point and went on to claim yet another French Open title. Djokovic would reach the final in the following years, but suffered defeats to Nadal and Wawrinka before finally winning the title in 2016.
8. Monica Seles v Steffi Graf – 1995 US Open Final
Steffi Graf Won: 7-6, 0-6, 6-3
Monica Seles had already won an impressive eight Grand Slams by the age of 20, establishing herself as the number one player in the world. However, tragedy struck in 1993 when she was stabbed on court by an unstable spectator. The mental scars took two years to overcome, and Seles made a triumphant return at the 1995 US Open. Beating several top 10 players along the way, Seles reached the final against her biggest rival, Steffi Graf. The match was a revolution in women’s tennis, with Seles dominating the second set and Graf playing the best tennis of her life in the third. Although Graf ultimately claimed the victory, Seles’ comeback was a testament to her resilience and unwavering talent.
7. Novak Djokovic v Roger Federer – 2019 Wimbledon Final
Novak Djokovic Won: 7–6, 1–6, 7–6, 4–6, 13–12
Although it happened just last year, the final of the greatest tournament between two of the greatest players playing their best tennis deserves a spot on this list. Roger Federer proved he’s the GOAT, playing an art form of tennis that took him to the final against Novak Djokovic. After almost five hours of play, Federer had two match points, but Djokovic saved them both and won in a fifth-set tiebreak under the new Wimbledon rule change. Fans around the world were captivated by the sheer brilliance on display, but opinions were divided on the tiebreak rule change at 12 all.
6. John Isner v Nicolas Mahut – 2010 Wimbledon First Round.
John Isner Won: 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68.
The Wimbledon rule change can make or break tennis history, as evidenced by a first-round match that became one of the greatest of all time. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut may not be considered greats, but their match broke world records and made headlines around the world. Isner served a record-breaking 112 aces, while Mahut surpassed Ivo Karlović’s previous record with 103. Play was suspended due to darkness with the score tied at 59-59 on the second day, and Isner eventually won on the third day after 183 games, 11 hours, and 5 minutes of play. This match will always be remembered as the longest in terms of both time and games in Tennis Open history.
This epic encounter between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut known for its record-breaking length, highlights the importance of starting with the right equipment, especially for those new to the sport. For beginners inspired by such monumental matches, finding a suitable racquet is crucial. Our guide on the best tennis racquets for beginners offers great options for those just entering the world of tennis.
5. Pete Sampras v Agassi – 2001 US Open Quarter Final
Pete Sampras Won: 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6
In the 90s, Sampras and Agassi were the best American players, but their contrasting styles and personal animosity made for a fascinating rivalry. When they faced off at the US Open, their home tournament, it was sure to be a spectacle. Despite being past their prime, the match was one of their most entertaining, with all four sets going to tiebreaks. Sampras used his big serve to win three of them, and neither player was able to break serve. At the end, the fans gave a long standing ovation for both players, creating a beautiful moment in tennis history. It was a reminder that despite the rivalry, Sampras and Agassi were both incredible players who deserved respect and admiration.
4. Novak Djokovic V Rafael Nadal – 2012 Australian Open Final
Novak Djokovic Won: 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5
The 2012 Australian Open Final showcased an incredible display of control from both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, underlining the importance of precision in tennis.
Djokovic had already won three Grand Slam titles in 2011 and had beaten Andy Murray in the semifinals, while Nadal was also in top form. Nadal won the first set 7-5 after an 80-minute battle, but Djokovic fought back to win the next two sets. The fourth set was a tense affair, with Nadal saving multiple break points to eventually take the set. In the fifth set, Djokovic showed his fighting spirit by breaking back after Nadal took a 4-2 lead. Finally, in the 11th game, Djokovic broke Nadal’s serve and held his own to lift his favorite trophy once again. The match lasted a grueling 5 hours and 53 minutes, with every point being a showcase of brilliance from both players.
Such a high level of control is partly attributable to choosing the right equipment. If you’re seeking to enhance your game’s precision, our selection of the best tennis rackets for control might just be what you need to make a significant difference.
3. Roger Federer v Andy Roddick – 2009 Wimbledon Final
Roger Federer Won: 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14
Roger Federer may be the greatest player of all time, but even his biggest fans were rooting for Andy Roddick in this match. Roddick was a fan favorite, always giving his all but never quite managing to beat Federer. Despite losing, Roddick set a record for the number of games won in a Wimbledon final at 39. The final set was one of the most dramatic and heart-stopping in tennis history, with Roddick only losing his serve once. Although he lost the match, it was a testament to his resilience and fighting spirit. This was his fourth meeting with Federer in a Grand Slam final, all won by Federer. The match also set records for the longest men’s Grand Slam final in history at 77 games and the fifth set in a men’s Grand Slam final. After the match, Roddick summed up his marathon performance with a simple statement: “I lost.”
2. Bjorn Borg v John McEnroe – 1980 Wimbledon Final
Bjorn Borg Won: 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6
Many consider the Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe match to be the greatest tennis match of all time. It was a clash of personalities and playing styles, with Borg’s coolness and McEnroe’s hot-headedness creating a legendary rivalry. After losing the opening set to McEnroe, Borg took the next two and had two championship points in the fourth. However, McEnroe won the fourth-set tiebreak in Wimbledon’s most memorable 34-point tiebreaker, saving five match points, while Borg saved six set points. Borg then won 19 straight points on serve in the deciding set, prevailing after 3 hours and 53 minutes. It was Borg’s fifth straight Wimbledon title, but also his last. Years later, he commented that he was afraid of losing for the first time and felt that it was the beginning of the end of his dominance. Borg would face McEnroe again in the 1981 Wimbledon Final and lose.
1. Roger Federer V Rafael Nadal – 2008 Wimbledon Final
Rafael Nadal Won: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (6-8), 9-7 .
The 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is widely considered the greatest tennis match of all time. Federer had won the previous five Wimbledon titles, but Nadal was the King of Clay and a formidable opponent on grass. Despite being the underdog, Nadal won the first two sets 6-4 6-4. The next two sets were a showcase of the highest-quality tennis ever played, with Federer winning the fourth set after saving championship points for Nadal. The fifth set was equally epic, with both players taking the lead, coming close to winning, only for it to go on and on. Eventually, Nadal got the break to win 9-7, his fighting spirit getting him through the match. He saved an amazing 12 of the 13 break points he faced. On the most famous court in the world, they played for four hours and 48 minutes, the longest final in Wimbledon history. The final points were played under a darkening London sky, creating a moment that will be remembered forever.
The Top 10 Best Tennis Matches of All Time includes some of the most epic, dramatic, and historic matches in the sport’s history. From Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe’s legendary rivalry, to the five-set battle between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final, these matches showcase the highest-quality tennis ever played. Each match has its own unique story and moments that will be remembered forever. Whether it’s the drama of the longest Grand Slam final in history between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, or the heart-stopping final set between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer, these matches remind us why tennis is one of the greatest sports in the world. You can also see our review of Pressureless Tennis Balls here
What impact did these matches have on the players’ careers?
These matches, considered among the best tennis matches of all time, had a profound impact on the players’ careers. They catapulted their status, elevated rankings, and solidified their legacies in the sport. Players gained recognition, lucrative sponsorship deals, and a lasting imprint on tennis history.
Were there any controversies or disputes related to the matches?
While the best tennis matches of all time were not immune to controversies or disputes, their significance remained unaffected. Some matches faced scrutiny over disputed line calls or allegations of unsportsmanlike conduct. However, these incidents did not overshadow the matches or significantly impact the players’ long-term careers.
What was the audience’s reaction to these matches?
The audience response to these matches was overwhelmingly positive. Fans were captivated by the high-quality play, intense rivalries, and memorable moments. The matches attracted large crowds, created a buzz in the tennis community, and left spectators in awe of the players’ skills.
Were any of the matches played on surfaces other than grass or hard courts?
Yes, a few of the best tennis matches of all time were played on surfaces other than grass or hard courts. Tennis tournaments feature clay courts and occasionally indoor carpet or synthetic surfaces, providing players with diverse challenges and showcasing their adaptability across different playing conditions.
What was the financial reward for winning these matches?
The financial rewards for winning these matches were substantial. Players received significant prize money, endorsements, and bonuses. The exact amounts varied depending on the tournament’s prestige and sponsorship, but winning these matches often meant a significant boost in the players’ earnings.
I’m Heorhii Rysak, a go-to sports enthusiast and blogger. My fascination with sports began in my childhood with karate, setting the foundation for my love of physical fitness. Over the years, I’ve delved into various disciplines, including martial arts and CrossFit, and developed a passion for tennis. I bring a wealth of practical experience to my blog, where I share equipment reviews, workout plans, and fitness advice. My goal is simple: to inspire and assist you in your journey toward better health and performance.