Top 10 Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal (2008 Wimbledon Final)

I cannot believe that it has been 10 years since this unforgettable match took place. The memories of this match still feel so recent and raw. Roger Federer, at this point, had won 5 Wimbledons on the trot. Rafael Nadal had been in two Wimbledon finals in a row but had not won. Federer was simply too good on grass.

Eight-year-old me was expecting another one-sided affair. Everyone around me was rooting for the overwhelming favorite, Federer. For some reason, I decided to root for the underdog, Nadal, perhaps to see a new winner of the highly prestigious Wimbledon crown.

Halfway into the match, I thought that Nadal had finally broken his duck. Federer, to everyone's surprise, found himself two sets to love down. Nadal was playing the best grass court tennis of his life.

But once again, Federer found some of that grass court magic he carries with himself and mounted a charge. Two thrilling tiebreakers, two sets to Federer, game on.

The sky started to darken as the final set began. Perhaps the most thrilling final set in the history of tennis. In its dying stages, both players were struggling to hold onto their serves. The lights on Centre Court were turned on.

But Nadal, perhaps fueled by his two previous losses in the final of Wimbledon, was running on sheer determination. A break up on Federer, 8-7 and serving for the Wimbledon title. It went to deuce, but Nadal gained the match point. Federer goes for an attacking forehand, perhaps feeling that he has nothing to lose at this point, but to no avail. The ball hits the net.

Rafael Nadal is the champion.

As he collapses to the floor with emotion, everyone else rises with applause. Nadal had finally done it.

Those final few moments of this glorious match, in particular, are ones that I will never forget. I always had a love for tennis, but this match well and truly cemented me as a fanatic. I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through.

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2 Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal (2012 Australian Open Final)

This spectacular match is the longest and most thrilling Grand Slam final ever. The sheer brilliance of Djokovic and the will and determination of Nadal defined every rally. The match was also the longest Grand Slam final at a colossal 5 hours and 53 minutes of breathtaking tennis.

This is the greatest tennis match of all time, and many of the sport's greats agree, too - Borg and Agassi, just to name a few.

Federer vs. Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon finals was simply superhuman, but this Australian Open 2012 match was no doubt the greatest ever. No other match in tennis history beats the class, fitness, and intensity of this.

This is truly a clash of the titans and, for that matter, one of the greatest events in the world of sports.

3 Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer (2019 Wimbledon Final)

This may be the greatest match between these two of their careers. It may even be the greatest match of all time. The sheer mental fortitude from Djokovic to win the break back after losing his serve in the 15th game of the 5th set was astounding. Federer's calculated shots were absolutely beautiful. The back-and-forth play was incredible.

Mark my words, this match will go down as one of the best in history. Both players were amazing, and I think all those who were watching were disappointed to see it come to an end. Federer and Djokovic will be regarded as two of the greatest players in history forever, and this match showcased their brilliance in the greatest of ways.

4 Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic (2013 French Open Semifinal)

I felt Novak almost did it when he was serving in the 5th set at 4-2. Novak had all the chances to go up to 5-2. That must have given him a psychological upper hand.

The point where he smashed, Rafa had no chance, but unfortunately, Novak hit the net. That was the moment I felt Novak went down psychologically. Rafa's back shot behind his legs was amazing. There was no answer for Djokovic.

Of course, this match showed that Novak always has a chance to win Roland Garros at some point with his hard work and dedication.

5 Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal (2017 Australian Open Final)

For most tennis fans, this was the dream final. The two biggest rivals in the history of the sport played in yet another Grand Slam final after everyone had written them off. The match itself was far better than anyone had expected. It was a scintillating display of exciting baseline rallies, pinpoint net play, and masterful serving. It was also brimming with drama, especially in the fifth set, where there were plenty of break-point opportunities, close games, and momentum shifts.

You couldn't pick a winner until that final Hawk-Eye challenge that had everyone on the edge of their seats. Perhaps not the most elegant way to end it, but certainly a fitting conclusion to what was one of the most suspenseful matches in Grand Slam history. Most people will tell you that their final at Wimbledon '08 was the greatest match of all time. However, the hype, the story, the drama, and the overall quality make this match my pick.

6 Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick (2009 Wimbledon Final)

Andy would have won this if he had served first. When a player has to play catch-up regarding serve in a final set, he or she tends to be at a disadvantage. My heart went out to Andy, but he was magnanimous in defeat.

Roger hit 50 aces, and he needed every single one of them! A shame for Andy...this was his finest moment. No one would have defeated Federer on that day. He was on a mission after he lost that epic final the year before.

The only time Roddick was broken was when he was serving to stay in the match at 14-15. Even Federer fans know their hearts were down for Andy Roddick as a Wimbledon champion.

7 Roger Federer vs. Novak Djokovic (2014 Wimbledon Final)

Some of the cleanest ball striking I've ever seen. Roger couldn't break Novak for three sets, then, down 5-2 in the fourth, got consecutive breaks to save the match. True grit.

Roger playing so well at 33 against a 27-year-old opponent of Novak's caliber simply cements his legacy as the best ever.

The fact that Roger was still able to put up that kind of fight at that age just goes to show his true greatness. Credit to Novak because he raised his game to match and even surpass Nadal and Federer at this point in their careers.

8 Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe (1980 Wimbledon Final)

To me, it's still the ultimate clash of styles and temperament, not to mention the 18-16 tiebreak - the greatest 22 minutes of tennis ever. This, to me, was the last great gasp of the wooden racket era, with deft shots, volleys, and passes aplenty.

I also loved that both families and friends sat in the same box, so we were able, from a cinematic perspective, to see their reactions at the same time.

This remains, without a doubt, the greatest match ever. Federer-Nadal 2008 may be second, but there is no way it surpasses Borg-McEnroe. I suspect few of the voters have actually watched the Borg-McEnroe match - other than perhaps the movie.

9 John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut (2010 Wimbledon First Round)

I felt like I was watching a fight among gladiators in this match. To give up would be to hand over your life. It was the gutsiest performance in any sport that I have ever witnessed.

The longest match ever. Both served over 100 aces. They showed the grit of tennis players. Tennis is beautiful in this way.

Important match but boring baseline play where neither could ever break.

10 Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal (2013 US Open Final)

It was a beautiful match, not too long, but with intensity and very technical rallies. The way Nadal came up in the third set at 4-4 (0-40) was truly amazing.

The Contenders
11 Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe (1984 French Open Final)

Perhaps an overlooked classic, McEnroe was at the height of his powers in June 1984, albeit playing on a surface he was not wild about. These two guys, who basically loathed one another, had a seesaw career rivalry, which at this juncture had McEnroe in the ascendancy. McEnroe played flawless tennis for two sets. The weather was warm, and McEnroe was in command.

Somehow, in the middle of the third set, with McEnroe cruising towards an emphatic straight-sets victory, Lendl began to claw his way back into the match. His superior fitness in the energy-sapping conditions started to come into play. A momentum player at best, McEnroe fell apart in the final set despite going down only 5-7 in the clincher. The crowd got behind Lendl (as merely an underdog since he was never a natural crowd favorite) and McEnroe began to disintegrate.

This was a heartbreaking loss for McEnroe as he knew that he would never again have such a gilt-edged opportunity to win at Roland Garros. He never reached another French Open final. Although he rallied to win Wimbledon and the US Open during that summer, this was the apogee of McEnroe's career. By 1985, his career had peaked and had begun to decline. It was Lendl, with his ruthless, almost militaristic approach to the game, who came to dominate world tennis in the late 1980s and early '90s. McEnroe, for all his pyrotechnical brilliance, was in eclipse.

That is why the loss to Lendl in the 1984 French Open Final is so meaningful and totemic of McEnroe's career, brilliant and unforgettable though it was.

12 Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic (2012 US Open Final)

For the amazing tension and sheer quality of the first set, this has to be in the top 10 matches ever. Awesome match.

The match is special because this is Murray's first Grand Slam title!

13 Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi (2001 US Open Quarterfinal)

The only Grand Slam match I recall going four straight sets with neither player ever breaking serve. Combine that with two contrasting styles of play (serve and volley vs. power baseline, one-handed backhand vs. two-handed backhand, etc.), and contrasting personalities, and you end up with an incredibly entertaining match of "who's gonna flinch first."

Very memorable match. I was there! This one gets my vote!

14 Roger Federer vs. Marat Safin (2005 Australian Open Semifinal)

Underrated match for sure. Safin defeated Roger Federer in his prime, which might be the biggest accomplishment you can achieve in tennis.

In my top 3. Safin played out of his skin, and the brilliance of the tennis was sustained throughout. Good to see the match on this list.

Marat Safin's masterpiece. This match was the best he ever played against a top-form Federer, ending a 27-match win streak. One of the most memorable wins in tennis history.

15 Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe (1981 Wimbledon Final)

One of the best matches between two players with different styles and personalities. A repeat of 1980, but with a different winner. McEnroe's superior serving enabled him to snatch victory.

16 Fernando Verdasco vs. Rafael Nadal (2009 Australian Open Semifinal)

It was a five-set thriller that had everything: high drama, adrenaline, passion, a ball magically flying around the net only to land millimetrically on court (Nadal's), incredible spin (Verdasco's) making the ball spring sideways upon touching the court only to be met with even more incredible spin in return. A multi-point rally finished with a clock-precision drop shot (Verdasco's), a ball being hit in a semi-squatting position sending the opponent at bullet speed from one extreme corner to the other extreme, hitting back a precision backhand slice (Nadal's), and then winning the point. In short, that match overshadows the Fed-Nadal final and will be forever engraved in my memory.

17 Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova (1985 French Open Final)

I find it odd that this match would be listed 17th.

18 David Nalbandian vs. Roger Federer (2005 ATP World Tour Finals)
19 Goran Ivanisevic vs. Patrick Rafter (2001 Wimbledon Final)

I just can't contain my emotions. Finally, it's over. The 4th chance to grab the Wimbledon championship, and he's done it at the age of 30, with just a ranking of 125 and a precious wildcard.

I was very nervous when the match went into the 5th set, and my heart was pounding fast when Goran converted the break point. My hands got sweaty when Goran faced the championship point four times, and the dream finally came true!

One of the most touching moments in life.

Maybe not the best match, but definitely my most memorable. I cried when Goran won.

20 Don Budge vs. Gottfried Von Cramm (1937 Davis Cup)

What an outstanding match. I remember it so vividly. Then the war came and ravaged my land.

21 Novak Djokovic vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (2013 Australian Open Fourth Round)

The most memorable tennis match I've seen in 35 years.

On one side, drama, quality, and tension were unreal. On the other side, it kickstarted the career of the loser of this epic battle. A mentally devastating defeat, with career-breaking potential, surprisingly built the base of one of the most beautiful stories tennis history has written.

I thought the match was amazing the first time I watched it, and since then, I've lost count of how many times I've rewatched the highlights. This is the match that made me a Wawrinka fan.

22 Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer (2009 Australian Open Final)

This match featured some of the purest shot-making between the two in all their clashes. I think this one gets forgotten because of the drama of the 2008 Wimbledon. Also, the fifth set saw Federer fade away.

It's kind of ridiculous that this is below number 5. Some of the best Nadal winners came from this game, including his famous "banana shot." In my opinion, Australian Open finals are the best, and this one was just as insane.

This match was overshadowed by the drama that happened in 2008. Otherwise, I would rate this match right on top with the Wimbledon 2008 final, if not better.

23 Rafael Nadal vs. Grigor Dimitrov (2017 Australian Open Semifinal)

Almost 6 hours of what tennis truly is about: fighting.

Five sets of absolute quality. No one lost this match, but Rafa won. Amazing!

Incredible quality from both players.

24 Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal (2009 Madrid Semifinal)
25 Roger Federer vs. Pete Sampras (2001 Wimbledon Fourth Round)

A storied start to Roger's career, breaking Pete's 38-match Wimbledon streak on Pete's favorite court. Roger was 19 at the time. Roger won the first game by serving 4 aces. Classic Wimbledon.

Lots of bang-bang serve and volley dealt by two of the greatest, in hindsight, while the torch was being passed from one to the other.

The end of an era. Federer is truly the master. He outplayed Sampras in serve-and-volley and then went on to play the most successful baseline game in history.

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