… from my point of view and in my viewing life. Upfront, I did not see the 1983 final so it is off the table. Also, last year’s final could very well be on this list, but I need some time to see what was memorable from a very ho-hum match.
5. Lleyton Hewitt d. David Nalbandian 2002
Hewitt won 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. The second set was mildly competitive. Hewitt was in his best years while Nalbandian looked totally awed by the situation. Nalbandian proved to be a very talented player who won the World Tour Finals in 2005 and reached at least the semifinal round of all four majors. The reason this is not less memorable is it set off a firestorm of worries about the death of serve and volley tennis (RIP 2002?). That gives this match some memorable aspects for me.
4. Pete Sampras d. Cedric Pioline 1997
I remember this match only because I could not see it. I was in rural Costa Rica at the time and was following Wimbledon via day old copies of the Miami Herald as the Costa Rican newspapers were not really covering Wimbledon at all. At the time, my Spanish was at its peak (I am still conversational today, but my mastery of verb tenses and accent marks is long gone). I remember following the event in a unique way, but Sampras v. Pioline was not that exciting at the 1993 US Open and was less exciting as a sequel.
3. Roger Federer d. Andy Roddick 2005
I was married a few days before this event. I remember watching a little of it as I cleaned out my old apartment, but my new wife (still married 12 years and 3 kids later!) was expecting me home with a car load of stuff. Federer faced a set point in the 1st set of their 2003 semifinal match at Wimbledon. Federer was a set down and nearly blew a 2 break lead in the 2nd set of his 2004 final versus Roddick. Their 2009 match was epic with a 16-14 fifth set. This 2005 match was just not ever in doubt. Federer’s backhand was quite solid in this 2005 match. That is what I remember.
2. Rafael Nadal d. Thomas Berdych 2010
I remember Berdych having a good Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2010. I remember Rafa looking totally invulnerable. I mostly remember my 2nd child being born a few days before this match. Also, the result of this match only seemed interesting for a few minutes during the second set when Berdych was holding serve with some ease.
1. Michael Stich d. Boris Becker 1991
I just remember being aggravated by this result. Becker was my favorite player after seeing him win Wimbledon in 1985. I had seen Becker lose two Wimbledon finals in 1988 and 1990 that were 4 and 5 set matches verses Stefan Edberg. So the result was not all that noteworthy. Stich won in a fairly straightforward manner. Stich played pretty well, and Becker played a little below the level he (and I) was hoping to see. The more memorable aspect of Stich’s title run was his 4 set semifinal win over Stefan Edberg in which he never broke the defending champion’s serve. That was memorable if solely because it ramped up concerns that big serving was making tennis dull. 3 sets of short points and no real drama in the final was not memorable.
PS – I suppose the 1996 Wimbledon final could be thrown out there by others, but I liked Richard Krajicek’s upsets of Sampras and Stich. Mal Washington rallied from a deep deficit in his semifinal win. The match was going to produce something new between 2 worthy newcomers so I recall it pretty well. The 1994 final could be added, but given that Goran had beaten Pete at Wimbledon in 1992 and the first 2 sets were close, I thought this was interesting until Goran fell behind by 2 sets and folded up his tent.