Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Memoria III

Well we have had a couple of pretty good 'memoria'-posts on two nail biting contests.......Here I will try to describe one of my personal favorite encounters……. Actually thisa bit low-profile……in the sense that it was not as popular……may be because it was not cricket……..

Venue: Wimbledon, London.

Date : July 9,2001.

Enter Goran Ivanisevic.

Enter Patric Rafter.

(2 of my all-time favorites)

For some reason, star sports was not broadcasting this of the biggest regrets of my not being able to watch this match live........Anyway.......where was I.......ya

Enter Goran Ivanisevic.

Enter Patrick Rafter.

Here was one guy who had reached the Wimbledon final on three occasions in the past only to end up second best……….and almost resigned to the fact that, that was as far as he could get……so was my thinking. Hampered by a sore shoulder that will require surgery at the end of the year, he came to the tournament with his career in an 18-month freefall. He needed a wild-card invitation because his ranking had tumbled to 125th. But, for all his inadequacies, he had one answer………that three letter word…….ACE……..just in case you did not guess who I am talking about:


And of course, up against him was the old warrior, the veteran, the Aussie—Pat Rafter.

Because rain washed out most of Saturday's schedule, the men's final began on a Monday for the first time since 1922. Finals are typically sold out in advance, but 10,000 tickets went on sale 2 1/2 hours before the match.

As the result, the stands were filled with a younger, noisier crowd than usual, with many fans likely attending Wimbledon for the first time. They sang, chanted, cheered double-faults and turned Centre Court into a kaleidoscope of flags, inflated kangaroos, face paint and clown hats.

For once, the only suits were in the royal box.

I don't know if Wimbledon has seen anything like it," Rafter said in a post-match interview. "I don't know if they will again. It was electric."

"So many Australian fans and Croatians, like a [soccer] match," said Ivanisevic after the match . "The crowd was just too good."

The atmosphere was similar when rain forced Wimbledon to play on the middle Sunday in 1991 and 1997, but the staid tournament had never staged a final like this.

Goran started confidently, from where he left off against Henman-How he beat Henman is another story……but lets concentrate on this one now……Almost every other serve of his went past Rafter without the racket touching the ball and the popular Croat raced to a three-nil lead. Even though Rafter played pretty good, a three-nil lead was a little too big to overcome and another missile from Goran at 5-3(40-15) mean —First Blood Goran.

But we all know about the Aussies…..dont we?......Rafter did to Goran what the Croat did to him…….6-3…….and the stands became a sea of red, white and blue Aussie flags.

Every point found at least one player at the net. There were no baseline exchanges and few rallies of more than four shots. This was grass-court tennis at its best.

But the stakes, atmosphere and swings in momentum made each point exciting nonetheless. Cheers at times drowned out the chair umpire's requests for "Quiet, please."

And soon……..the Croat gained some lost momentum……as he fought back to win the third set 6-3……..

Ivanisevic briefly came unhinged in the fourth set. Facing a break point, he hit an apparent service winner, but a lineswoman cited him for a foot fault, the only one of the match.

"Nooooooo!" he screamed.

He thought his next serve was an ace and skipped in glee before realizing it had been called wide -- a double fault that gave the game to Rafter. Ivanisevic threw his racket and kicked the net, then argued in vain with the chair umpire.

"I got a little crazy," he admitted in the post-match interview.

In an amazing turnaround he went on to lose the fourth set 6-2. The past came back to haunt Ivanisevic. Oh…….when he came so close in ‘92 against Agassi…….and in ’94……..and again in ’98……this time to be gunned down by Pistol Pete.

In the past, such situations have unraveled his game and cost him matches.

Then, the fifth set began with the momentum very much in favor of the Aussie…….But the lankily built French-bearded Goran quickly gained the lost composure. There were no service breaks: 1 all, then 2 all then 3,4,5,6 and then seven all……Yes it was the final set …….so no tie-breakers……

15th game: Rafter missed four first serves and Ivanisevic took advantage, smacking three excellent returns. The third one, for a winner at 15-40, gave him an 8-7 lead and a chance to serve for the championship.

Because he's never-boring Goran, he blew an easy volley, then double-faulted to fall behind 15-30. Two big serves, including his 27th ace, took him to 30-30.

Then………..this happened:

"I knew I was going to be one, two double faults," Ivanisevic said. "My arm was so heavy."

He collapsed as the crowd roared, then rose in a daze. At the net Rafter gave him a hug, a pat on the back and a rub on the head.

Ivanisevic then crossed the court and ran up a stadium aisle to the VIP box for a group hug with his father, coach and friends. When he climbed onto a broadcasting booth with a grin as wide as his outstretched arms, the crowd renewed its chant of "Go-ran! Go-ran!"

"I don't care now if I ever win a match in my life again," he said. "Whatever I do in my life, wherever I go, I'm always going to be Wimbledon champion."


abhi said...

bravo...that was one helluva match...only person to clinch the title entering as Wildcard and at the same time lowest-ranked player.
For that matter, his victory is rated sixteenth at the list of 100 Greatest Sporting Moments. (Ref:

nitesh said...

seriously hell of a match
everything was there
action thrill nerves

abhi said...

and i forgot to mention....giri, very nice post with all the emotions attached...keep them coming. :)

desh said...

awesome post
one of the best sportolysis has seen so far
i still remember this one....the last good game of tennis played on earth i fell....
after this tennis has become crap

giri said...

tqtqtqtq!!........I no i am 2 good :P

Amod said...

Woo giri...well written..well narrated.. The video was exciting!

desh said...

use less of those "..." 's

Raja said...

ohh wat a period that was for tennis include Fedex in that...and that would be a dream for every tennis lover..imagine Ivanisevis, sampras,Federer, and Agassi making a Wimbeldon Semis..line up...and to predict a winner ..its one helluva of a task....
and Giri..awesome post...someone please write on Safin-Fedex match..australian open...

giri said...

i dint watch that mere dil se awaaz nahi aayegi.......koi aur likho

desh said...

this is a classic, Safin nowhr in th tennis notebooks, its th russian gals we can tok about

Raja said...

ya i know safin is nowhere but that match was classic ,,,,,and one more thing safin is the only player who was able to defeat Federer in the HardCourt Major(US and Australian Open) for last 3 year.

desh said...

This won will feature in sportolysis memoria

Sports God said...

giri now expecting more thrillers from you

Sports God said...

some one write about the
famous tied match of Aus and SA
to relive that unfortunate moment

aur we can have many posts on SA choking just like india