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Wimbledon top 10: Fighting comebacks

Former World No. 1 tennis player Boris Becker is introduced on Centre Court.
by Simon Cambers
Tuesday 25 June 2013

In today's top 10, Wimbledon.com looks at some of the greatest comebacks in The Championships' history.

1. Jimmy Connors v Mikael Pernfors – Fourth round, 1987. It seemed that time had finally caught up with the two-time champion when he trailed 6-1, 6-1, 4-1 to the Swede in the fourth round. Then the street-fighter in Connors kicked in and he roared back for an astounding victory, even by his standards. In the final set he had a thigh injury but was never going to let up. “I was always going to finish the match, even if I had to crawl,” he said.

2. Henri Cochet v Jean Borotra – Final, 1927. Searching back through the archives, this one stands out more than most. Frenchman Cochet had already come back from two sets down in both the quarter-finals and then in the semi-finals. So when he dropped the first two sets in the final, he didn’t panic. But in the fourth set, he had to save six match points before winning the fifth to edge out Borotra for the title. That’s doing things the hard way.

3. Bjorn Borg v Jimmy Connors – Semi-finals, 1981. Connors had absolutely blown a sleepy Borg off the court in the first set and maintained his momentum, winning nine of the first 10 games as he took a two sets to love lead over the five-times champion. Unfortunately for Connors, Borg refused to panic and reeled off the next three sets to win in five. “I was lucky to survive,” Borg said.

4. John McEnroe v Darren Cahill – First round, 1989. At the age of 30, McEnroe was in the twilight of his career and was being comprehensively outplayed by the Australian serve and volleyer. Struggling on his own serve he looked down and out but a rain break towards the end of the second set changed things. McEnroe arrived on court with his fist pumped and though he lost the second set, he roared back for a 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 8-6 victory, the first time in his career he had come from two sets down to win.

5. Steffi Graf v Jana Novotna – Final, 1993. Despite being a big favourite, Graf was struggling against the serve and volley game of Novotna, who won eight games out of 10 to lead 4-1 in the third set, with two breaks of serve. The Czech had a point to lead 5-1 but double-faulted and, as her nerve failed, Graf charged back to clinch her fifth Wimbledon title. Novotna cried on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent, but did come back to win in 1997.

6. Roger Federer v Alejandro Falla – First round, 2010. Defending champion Federer was chasing Wimbledon win number seven but was out of sorts as the left-handed Falla took the first two sets. Though the top seed hit back to take the fourth, Falla served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth only to falter at the final hurdle. Federer didn’t need a second chance and stormed back to take the final set 6-0.

7. Boris Becker v Miles Maclagan  First round, 1999. Fourteen years after the first of his three Wimbledon titles, Becker was in his last hurrah at the All England Club, trying to end his career on his beloved Centre Court. When he dropped the first two sets to Britain’s Miles Maclagan on No.2 Court – the old graveyard of champions – that hope looked a long shot. Even more so when at 4-5 in the fourth set, he faced three match points. But his trusty serve and his nerve saved him and he went on to win and reach the fourth round.

8. Andy Murray v Richard Gasquet – Fourth round, 2008. Murray was the new kid on the block but had yet to make an impression in a Grand Slam event. On home soil, he trailed Richard Gasquet by two sets and the Frenchman then served for victory late in the third set. But with the help of the crowd and his new-found fitness regime, Murray recovered to win 6-4 in the final set at 9.29pm. It was the match that put the British crowd firmly on the Scot’s side.

9. Roger Federer v Julien Benneteau – Third round, 2012. Three years since his last Wimbledon title, Federer was in real trouble against Benneteau, a Frenchman with a big serve and an aggressive style. The first two sets went to Benneteau and as the fourth set went to a tie-break, the Swiss’s obituary was being written. But true to form, he hit back, levelled the match and eased away in the fifth. Ten days later, he was the champion for the seventh time.

10. Joakim Nystrom and Mats Wilander v Ken Flach and Robert Seguso – Men’s Doubles Quarter-final, 1986. Finally a doubles one and what a match this was. The American pair of Flach and Seguso led by two sets to love and had three match points at 5-4 in the third. Another came and went in the tie-break and two more at 5-4 in the final set – for a total of six – as the Swedes held firm to clinch a remarkable victory.


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