As I said, I am only ranking finals that I had a chance to watch. I did not see the 1980 final. I am sure it would rank highly if I had seen it.
4. 2007 Roger Federer d. Rafael Nadal 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2
In 2006, Rafa and Roger traded 4 set wins at the French Open and Wimbledon. In 2007, Federer again lost to Nadal in 4 sets at the French Open. This Wimbledon match represented the first time Rafa drew blood from Roger on grass despite Federer winning. Roger’s serve was excellent, and it had to be. Roger also blunted several break points early in the fifth set and regrouped to break Rafa twice and win his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title. The quality of this match made the anticipation of their 2008 tilt that much greater.
3. 1982 Jimmy Connors d. John McEnroe 3-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4
Since I just wrote at length about this match, see my earlier post – Wimbledon Memories 1982 John McEnore vs. Jimmy Connors for a more detailed account.
2. 2001 Goran Ivanisevic d. Patrick Rafter 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7
Goran had come close in 1992 and 1998. As a three time runner-up, it was not shocking that he won some matches at Wimbledon, but he entered 2002 as a shadow of his former self in terms of ranking and game. Something clicked and Goran beat Caros Moya, Andy Roddick, Greg Rusedski, Marat Safin and Tim Henman in succession before meeting 2000 runner-up Patrick Rafter in the final. The final was pushed to Monday, and the crowd added incredible excitement to this match. Goran managed to win while facing all of the human issues of nerves and self-doubt. The 4th set saw Goran implode. He regrouped in the 5th set and both men kept holding serve. Serving at 6-7, 0-30 Goran battled back only to have Rafter force deuce with a perfect lob. Again Goran held when only 2 points from a 4th finals defeat. Goran broke Rafter only to have to deal with nerves and actual tears as he was serving for the match. Goran needed 4 match points to claim the title. Finally, he had his Wimbledon trophy, but not after putting the tennis world through a drama filled battle.
1. 2008 Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7
Federer dug incredibly deep here but Rafa did not blink in the 5th
Nadal felt as though he had let Federer off of the hook in 2007. He aimed to get his Wimbledon title and took command early. The first two sets were good tennis, but Nadal was firmly in control of the match. The third set saw Federer get on a roll with his serve and force a fourth. Once again both men held until a tiebreak was necessary, but this time Nadal took advantage. It looked like a four set win for Nadal, but some nervous play from Rafa and a brilliant one-handed backhand winner from Federer helped send this match into an epic fifth set. So much was riding on this match that the rain delays and Federer’s comeback gave an added sense of urgency to every fan watching. Nadal kept holding serve. He was broken by Federer in the 2nd set, but managed 2 breaks in that set. Nadal held at 4-5, 5-6, and 6-7 when a break would have meant the match ended in Federer’s favor. Darkness became a factor as two great player produced awesome shot after shot battling into the evening. Rafa broke at 7-7 and then put the ghosts of 2007 and the 2008 4th set tiebreak behind him to dethrone Roger Federer 9-7 in the fifth set.