Splendor on the Grass

What makes a great tennis match great? I started asking myself this question while I was putting together a review of “A Terrible Splendor,” a new book hooked on a 1937 Davis Cup contest between Don Budge of the USA and Baron Gottfried von Cramm, representing Nazi Germany. The author, Marshall Jon Fisher, describes it as “the greatest tennis match ever played,” and with some justification. Budge won it in five dramatic sets—a heartbreaker for Cramm, a true gentleman and a homosexual who soon found himself at the mercy of Nazi authorities. Was it the greatest match of all time? Tennis legend Bill Tilden thought it was at the time, but there’s been a great deal of tennis since then, and the game has changed considerably. Being a sports fan, and this being the sports fan’s prerogative, I decided to make a list of greatest matches of my own, all from the modern era. My criteria, which I naturally violated, were as follows:

-Great players performing brilliantly
-An edge-of-the-seat, see-saw battle
-A grand stage with something important at stake
-An energized crowd
-Some kind of subtext that adds tension to the proceedings

With that, here are my Five Greatest Matches of All Time (Plus 2):

1: Borg d. McEnroe, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18), 8-6, Wimbledon, 1980
The ultimate. A contrast of artistry, strategy, and personality played out over five sets for the sport’s most hallowed trophy. For a long time I thought Mac a bratty nuisance, and he was, but as a New Yorker I now find it impossible not to love him, as he is a microcosm of what makes this city great: its aggressive, abrasive, arrogant, creative, dirty, self-destructive, flat-out brilliance. And Borg was pretty good, too.

2: Nadal d. Federer, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7-5), 6-7 (8-6), 9-7, Wimbeldon, 2008
It is a testament to the genius of Borg-Mac ’80 that this classic is not in my top slot. While that first match was defined by its artistry, Nadal and Federer shall be remembered (at least by me) for power and force of will.

3: Evert d. Navratilova, 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, French Open, 1985
The consensus choice as the finest match in one of the greatest rivalries in sport. As a Navratilova fan, it hurts to choose this over her 1981 Australian final win. Let the record show Martina was the superior player.

4: Agassi d. Blake, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), US Open, 2005
A controversial choice, but a truly extraordinary match under the lights at Armstrong Stadium, the ultimate venue, now sadly replaced. Sampras may have been a greater champion, but in terms of creativity, showmanship, and guts, Agassi is unmatched, perhaps by anyone in tennis history. Blake, with his own fan contingent, was an equally compelling story. It says a great deal that, after perhaps only Derek Jeter and Muhammad Ali, Agassi remains the most beloved sports figure in New York.

5: Connors d. Krickstein, 3–6, 7–6 (8-6), 1–6, 6–3, 7–6 (6-4), US Open, 1991
The old man did it, his fist pump and banana-yellow racket forever etched in the minds of American tennis fans. This was an epic match, and Krickstein, a nice Jewish boy with a killer forehand, was a darling of the New York crowd. It was Connors’s 39th birthday.

HM: King d. Riggs, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, “Battle of the Sexes,” 1973
Can you really make any kind of greatest tennis list without BJK? This may not have been a terrific match, but none has ever been more important, both for tennis and the culture at large. My mother still crows about this match, and rightly.

HM2: S. Williams d. V. Williams, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), US Open 2008
As a NY partisan, I choose this over the Wimbledon final won by Venus a few months prior. The sisters catch way too much heat in the tennis press. I think they’re great, and vastly preferable to the cookie-cutter robots that are so prevalent.

Yes, it’s highly subjective. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments.

viagra
free viagra
buy viagra online
generic viagra
how does viagra work
cheap viagra
buy viagra
buy viagra online inurl
viagra 6 free samples
viagra online
viagra for women
viagra side effects
female viagra
natural viagra
online viagra
cheapest viagra prices
herbal viagra
alternative to viagra
buy generic viagra
purchase viagra online
free viagra without prescription
viagra attorneys
free viagra samples before buying
buy generic viagra cheap
viagra uk
generic viagra online
try viagra for free
generic viagra from india
fda approves viagra
free viagra sample
what is better viagra or levitra
discount generic viagra online
viagra cialis levitra
viagra dosage
viagra cheap
viagra on line
best price for viagra
free sample pack of viagra
viagra generic
viagra without prescription
discount viagra
gay viagra
mail order viagra
viagra inurl
generic viagra online paypal
generic viagra overnight
generic viagra online pharmacy
generic viagra uk
buy cheap viagra online uk
suppliers of viagra
how long does viagra last
viagra sex
generic viagra soft tabs
generic viagra 100mg
buy viagra onli
generic viagra online without prescription
viagra energy drink
cheapest uk supplier viagra
viagra cialis
generic viagra safe
viagra professional
viagra sales
viagra free trial pack
viagra lawyers
over the counter viagra
best price for generic viagra
viagra jokes
buying viagra
viagra samples
viagra sample
cialis
generic cialis
cheapest cialis
buy cialis online
buying generic cialis
cialis for order
what are the side effects of cialis
buy generic cialis
what is the generic name for cialis
cheap cialis
cialis online
buy cialis
cialis side effects
how long does cialis last
cialis forum
cialis lawyer ohio
cialis attorneys
cialis attorney columbus
cialis injury lawyer ohio
cialis injury attorney ohio
cialis injury lawyer columbus
prices cialis
cialis lawyers
viagra cialis levitra
cialis lawyer columbus
online generic cialis
daily cialis
cialis injury attorney columbus
cialis attorney ohio
cialis cost
cialis professional
cialis super active
how does cialis work
what does cialis look like
cialis drug
viagra cialis
cialis to buy new zealand
cialis without prescription
free cialis
cialis soft tabs
discount cialis
cialis generic
generic cialis from india
cheap cialis sale online
cialis daily
cialis reviews
cialis generico
how can i take cialis
cheap cialis si
cialis vs viagra
levitra
generic levitra
levitra attorneys
what is better viagra or levitra
viagra cialis levitra
levitra side effects
buy levitra
levitra online
levitra dangers
how does levitra work
levitra lawyers
what is the difference between levitra and viagra
levitra versus viagra
which works better viagra or levitra
buy levitra and overnight shipping
levitra vs viagra
canidan pharmacies levitra
how long does levitra last
viagra cialis levitra
levitra acheter
comprare levitra
levitra ohne rezept
levitra 20mg
levitra senza ricetta
cheapest generic levitra
levitra compra
cheap levitra
levitra overnight
levitra generika
levitra kaufen

5 thoughts on “Splendor on the Grass”

  1. Mantle, Ruth, Gehrig, Joe D., the Scooter (?), Martin, and Stengel are all dead. I was referring to the living. 9 out of 10 ny’ers wouldn’t know willis reed if they bumped into him in the street. i love clyde but he’s not a major celebrity. Namath is a has been (no offense).

    I don’t think any tennis player has had a following like Andre; he was beloved by that whole teeny bopper set, and he kept those fans, but then serious fans came to him as well. Connors had his heyday before the media explosion of the sport really took hold, and Mac was always too polarizing a figure.

  2. I don’t think Andre is in the top 10 beloved sports figures in NY. How can you possibly put him above Mickey Mantle? Or Willis Reed or even Walt Frasier? Or Ruth, Gherig, Dimagio, Yogi or Skeeter? Or even Billy Martin or Casey Stengel?

    And as for showman on a tennis court he doesn’t come close to Connors or McEnroe.

  3. You forgot “Bernheimer vs some kid from Camp Androscoggin”, 1984. Had the kid in tears. On red clay, to boot.

Comments are closed.