This corona pandemic has forced the organizers to cancel the championships at Wimbledon 2020. Having been a die hard fan of this sport for more than 25 years, I just recalled one of my favourite men's Wimbledon singles final from the year 2001. One reason for this being my favourite is that it had all the ingredients to be an ALL TIME CLASSIC. The final was contested without Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi etc making it more special. Ace master Goran Ivanisevic who was a wildcard entrant that year was doing pretty well. He had come close to winning the title thrice previously but had lost in the finals. This time he was 29 & he knew that this could be his last chance to add a major title to his kitty in his illustrious career. On the other side he was pitted against Patrick Rafter who had already won other major titles like US Open twice. I was a big fan of Goran Ivanisevic those days as there was nobody who could serve as faster as him & also hit aces like that with ease on a consistent basis. But it was a bit shocking that a player of his caliber had not won even one grandslam singles title till that day. Although some experts say that rain Gods favoured Ivanisevic throughout the tournament (especially after his 5 set win over Tim Henman in the semi finals) I would say that its just part & parcel of any sport. He was unlucky on 3 occasions previously (lost twice to Sampras & once to Agassi in the finals). That needs to be considered as well. Goran’s father sitting in the crowd looking exactly like Goran with grey hair is a sight that cannot be forgotten even today. Those emotions. Waw. It gives pure joy. At 2 sets all, in the 16th game of the fifth set, members of Goran Ivanisevic's entourage asked for divine intervention as the Croatian sought to close out the encounter against Australia's Patrick Rafter & end years of Wimbledon heartache.
Ivanisevic himself asked for help from above, he wanted the same ball while serving. Australian and Croatian spectators on Centre Court roared encouragement between points to make for a football like atmosphere. Ivanisevic had lost three previous Wimbledon finals & seemed destined to miss out on glory at the All England Club given he had struggled with a shoulder injury earlier in 2001 & contemplated retirement.
And there he was leading 8-7 in the fifth set, four points from winning the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. And yes he did it finally. He won the final set 9-7. The moment he took off his shirt in glory & celebrated that victorious moment with his father even I was on my feet at home watching it live on TV.
And till today Goran Ivanisevic is the only man to win Wimbledon men’s singles title as a wildcard entrant.