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Sunday, 11 June, 2000, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Classic men's singles finals

1972
Stan Smith beat Ilie Nastase
4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.


Nastase, the Romanian Army officer
Nastase, the Romanian Army officer
This was the year professionals were banned from The Championships but it nevertheless threw up one of the best men's final since the war.

The clash of styles and temperaments could not have been cast better. Stan Smith, the straight-backed 6ft 4in American Army corporal, versus the round-shouldered Nastase, himself an officer in the Romanian Army.

The athleticism and craft of the blond Smith against the wile and artistry of the raven-haired Nastase.

At the start Nastase seemed obsessed with the tension of his racquets, although it did not seem to affect his touch on the volley.

Smith's secret weapon was his return of serve and it was there when he needed it most.

Serving to stay in the match at 5-6 in the fifth set, Nastase reached 40-0. But scorching returns to his feet and a double fault put Smith right back in it.

He won the game to win his only Wimbledon title.


1980
Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe
1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6.


Borg has his fifth Wimbledon success
Borg has his fifth Wimbledon success
Twenty years ago John McEnroe was not seen as the loveable rogue he is portrayed as today.

Disgraceful behaviour in the semi-final against Jimmy Connors meant McEnroe was booed as he walked on to the Centre Court for the final.

But three hours and 53 minutes later he was given a standing ovation for his part in probably the greatest final ever.

Borg won it in five brilliant sets. Excitement reached and then exceeded fever pitch in the fourth set tie-breaker.

McEnroe finally took it 18-16 after saving five match points. But that was the tiring McEnroe's last hurrah.

The American won only three points against serve in the fifth set and at 7-6 the Swede unleashed two superb returns.

McEnroe missed a volley to put him at match point for the eighth time, the first having come an hour and 17 minutes earlier.

A backhand cross-court passing shot gave him his fifth - and last - Wimbledon title.


1981 John McEnroe beat Bjorn Borg 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.


McEnroe on his way to three Wimbledon successses
McEnroe on his way to three Wimbledon successses
So devastating was Borg's defeat to the new King of Centre Court that he never played there again.

It was too much to hope that the final would repeat the drama of the previous year but there was more than enough to keep it in the memory a very long time.

Borg took the first set with his usual power and accuracy from the baseline.

At times McEnroe, at the net, had no idea where the ball was going. But by the time the second set reached its climax it was clear the tide was changing.

The American was starting to punch away volleys. With both men playing well, two tie-breakers gave McEnroe a two-sets to one lead.

But perhaps sensing his time was up, Borg had nothing left in the fourth and "Superbrat" claimed the first of his three Wimbledon titles.


1992
Andre Agassi beat Goran Ivanisevic
6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.


Agassi overcomes the big serves of Ivanisevic
Agassi overcomes the big serves of Ivanisevic
The 1992 final saw the best server in the game at that time, Goran Ivanisevic, take on the best returner the game has ever seen, Andre Agassi.

Ivanisevic regularly pounded down serves in excess of 120mph with a variety of spin and placement.

He hit 37 aces, nine games worth. And still lost.

He was so frustrated he started to swear... in Serbo-Croat. BBC television viewers phoned in to complain and a message was passed to the player via the umpire.

Agassi took the ball so early and hit his returns so hard the ball was back past Ivanisevic before he had finished his follow-through.

When the Croat double faulted and netted a volley to give Agassi the match and his first Grand Slam title, the American, seeded 12th, slumped to his knees, saying, "it's over, it's over".

Then he burst into tears.


1998
Pete Sampras beat Goran Ivanisevic
6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.


Ivanisevic comes in second to Sampras
Ivanisevic comes in second to Sampras
Pete Sampras has never been given the adulation previous champions like Boris Becker and Jimmy Connors received.

Part of the reason for this is because the six-times winner is head and shoulders above his rivals and his matches are often one-sided.

But the big-serving Croat, Goran Ivanisevic, certainly made a contest of it two years ago.

After his five-set defeat, Ivanisevic said the feeling was worse than seeing someone die, a comment many of the newspapers toned down for their reports the next day.

It may have been a typical modern battle between two huge servers, but what a battle.

At a key moment in the fourth set, the American returned a rocket serve with interest at Ivanisevic's feet.

What did he do? Half-volley it between his legs for a winner, of course. When Ivanisevic levelled at two sets all it was impossible to pick a winner.

But when push came to shove, it was Sampras who had the extra gear.

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See also:

10 Jun 00 | The Brits
Profile: Tim Henman
10 Jun 00 | Fans Guide
Classic women's singles finals
10 Jun 00 | The Brits
British women to watch
10 Jun 00 | The Brits
British men's hopefuls
09 Jun 00 | Photo Galleries
Memorable characters from SW19 in the 1980s
09 Jun 00 | Photo Galleries
The last ten ladies' Wimbledon champions
09 Jun 00 | Photo Galleries
The last 10 men to win the Championships
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