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 You are in: Special Events: 2001: Wimbledon 2001: SOL at Wimbledon  
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  Monday, 9 July, 2001, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
The People's Final
Australian spectators take over Centre Court
Centre Court was more like Sydney than SW19
By BBC Sport Online's Saj Chowdhury on Centre Court

What a day and what a fitting end to a fantastic championship.

"People's Monday" exceeded all expectations with thousands of fans rushing to SW19 for the chance to watch a non-exclusive Wimbledon final between Pat Rafter and Goran Ivanisevic.

It was the first time a final had begun on the third Monday and - despite the fact that Tim Henman was not there - the passionate numbers were intent on witnessing Wimbledon 2001's concluding spectacle.

From as early as 10:30am through to the amazing climactic moments, Centre Court produced an atmosphere never likely to be seen and heard again.

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson: Rousing reception
Fans began queuing at five o'clock on Sunday morning for the chance to watch the men's final - and those who waited were not to be disappointed.

It was a contest which had everything - and more.

Scintillating groundstrokes, deft touches, an electric atmosphere and most importantly madness and brilliance from King Goran.

Ivanisevic's bizarre outburst in the sixth game of the fourth set was reminiscent of the days when John McEnroe used to delight and infuriate the crowds with his tantrums.

On break point, the big Croatian was foot faulted on his first serve, and then served wide to hand Rafter the game.

The reaction was explosive. Ivanisevic kicked the net in anger, slammed his racket down and hurled abuse at the umpire.

It was all in vain, as Rafter went on to clinch the fourth set and take the match into a decider.

Glenn McGrath
Aussie cricketer Glenn McGrath cheers on Rafter
Wimbledon veterans Pat Cash and John Lloyd said that they had never witnessed such an atmosphere at a tennis match - never mind at Wimbledon - in their lives. And they were right.

Tension descended on Centre Court. Chants of "Goran" were countered by those of "Rafter". It was unique. It was brilliant.

Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson was given an incredible reception as he took his seat in the Royal Box.

But the film star was out-numbered by another group of celebrity spectators - the Australian cricket team.

Steve Waugh and his team-mates were as passionate as the rest of the Antipodean supporters, constantly cheering on Rafter on the big points and offering him encouraging signals as the pressure mounted.

Both players had claims before the contest as to why they should win.

Rafter - losing finalist last year to Pete Sampras, and possibly retiring after the end of the tennis season.

Ivanisevic - three times losing finalist, and a favourite with the British public.

Someone had to go home heartbroken.

Nerve-jangling climax

The final set was going to serve. Neither player looked fazed by the occasion.

The 10th game saw Rafter produce three outstanding stop-volleys just when it seemed like Ivanisevic was set to break the Australian.

Fans queue outside Wimbledon
The queues for final tickets began early on Sunday
The Aussies cheered on - hoping that their nation of sporting superstars would complete a hat-trick of wins, after their weekend triumphs in the Ashes cricket and over the Lions.

But their hopes for a third successive sporting victory were soon to be dashed.

Someboy's arm had to stiffen - and it was Rafter who succumbed to the tension.

In the 15th game a succession on poor first serves from the Australian allowed Ivanisevic to make his crucial winners.

At 40-15 Rafter's second serve was returned with a shot Andre Agassi would have been proud of.

With the scores at 8-7 and the Championship in sight, Ivanisevic hit a second serve ace for 30-15 and then with the same ball he served another ace for 40-30.

By now the tension was unbearable. Ivanisevic had been taken to deuce after double-faulting, and with Championship point beckoning he double-faulted again.

A family queues up for tickets
People's Monday gave ordinary fans a chance to see the final
A superb lob from Rafter halted another Championship point - was it going to be third time lucky?

The answer was yes. After a first serve fault, Ivanisevic delivered a second serve which Rafter could only return into the net.

The Croatian slumped to the ground, looked to the heavens and thanked his divine inspiration.

It was Ivanisevic's first win in his fourth appearance in the final.

And nobody - not even the legion of Australian supporters - could be begrudge him that.

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