Top 5 Matches in Australian Open History
They say stars shine brightest when they are on the biggest stage, and there may be no bigger stage in tennis than the Australian Open. Will this year's Australian Open produce any classic moments? Will any matches enter the ranks among the 5 most memorable matches in Australian Open history? Regardless if a memorable match emerges from this year, it got us thinking: What are the top 5 most memorable matches in the past 20 years of the Australian Open?
Serena Williams Defeats Venus Williams, 2003 Finals
Like the four Grand Slam finals before, it was Williams versus Williams. And much like the four Grand Slam finals before, Serena would beat Venus again to become the fifth woman in history to hold all four major titles simultaneously - achieving the “Serena Slam”.
The match went three sets: 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4.
After the match Serena would go on to say, “I never get choked up, but I’m really emotional right now.” She added, “I’m really, really, really happy. I’d like to thank my mom and my dad for helping me.”
Andre Agassi Defeats Pete Sampras, 2000 Semifinals
A match packed with historical significance, the 2000 semifinals featured first-seeded Andre Agassi, who was going for his fourth consecutive Grand Slam final since Rod Laver did it in 1969, versus Pete Sampras. This was the 30th meeting between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, but it was only the second time they went five sets. Also, Sampras fired an incredible 37 aces...and still lost! Despite Sampras having a chance to close out the match in a fourth-set tiebreaker, Agassi battled back serving up two winners to get to set point, where he won the set on a forehand passing shot.
Agassi would go on to defeat Sampras 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (0-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
Fun Fact: This was the first Australian Open that Roger Federer competed in and the first time he went beyond the first round in a Grand Slam.
Rafael Nadal Defeats Roger Federer, 2009 Finals
Another match that will always be remembered for its historical significance. The 2009 Finals would be Nadal’s first - and to this point only - Australian Open title.
And what a memorable title it was defeating a tennis legend in Federer, who was going for his 14th Grand Slam title, a feat that would tie Pete Sampras' all-time record of Grand Slam wins.
In an intensity packed match Nadal would defeat Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2. More importantly, this match would mark Nadal’s 5th consecutive victory over Federer.
Jennifer Capriati Defeats Martina Hingis, 2002 Finals
In the finals of the 2002 Australian Open, Martina Hingis, who had won the tournament three times (1997-1999), was not the favorite against Jennifer Capriati. Capriati, who at the time was ranked number one in the world, was fresh off two Grand Slam titles in 2001.
Still, Hingis would not go down easy. The three-time champion took control of the match immediately winning the first set (6-4), and in the second set, she took a 4-0 lead that seemed all but insurmountable. However, Capriati battled back and Hingis lost the second set, 9-7 in the tie break. Hingis never recovered mentally from the dramatic loss of the second set - Capriati sealed her victory with a 6-3 third set.
The dramatic comeback was one for the ages on the hallowed Australian Open grounds.
Novak Djokovic Defeats Rafael Nadal, 2012 Finals
In 2012, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic captured his fifth Grand Slam championship title as he defeated No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in an epic - some may say the best ever - final contest at the Australian Open.
This matchup would go down as the longest-ever match at the Australian Open and the longest men's Grand Slam final on record. The match started on Sunday night, but didn’t end until after 1 AM on Monday! The match also eclipsed the previous record, the 88’ US Open, of four hours and 54 minutes.
“This was definitely one of the greatest matches of all time – easily one of the ten best since the Open Era of tennis started in 1968,” Steve Flink, author of The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time, told World Tennis. “Djokovic and Nadal both showed boundless energy and determination. They moved beyond themselves time and again, finding reserves of willpower they never knew existed. It was a match that will stand the test of time. It was riveting theatre...”