Defeats Bjorn Borg 7-6, 6-1, 6-7, 5-7, 6-4.
Ali and Frazier had their trilogy which culminated with the “Thrilla in Manilla” in 1975. Five years later John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg staged their own epic battles. Granted, it was tennis not boxing; but arguably just exciting, and well, maybe more athletic as well.
The first time they faced each other in a Grand Slam final was at Wiimbledon. The “Gentlemen’s Singles” (I said it wasn’t as bloody.) was played on July 5, 1980. Borg won it, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6. The 18-16 fourth set tie breaker is considered to be one of, if not the greatest moments in the history of tennis.
Borg was the undisputed King of the tennis world, at least in terms of the French Open and Wimbledon. He won the French in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979 and in 1980. 1980 also marked the fifth straight year that Borg won at Wimbledon.
The U.S. open was another story. He lost in the finals to Connors in 1976, and again in 1978.
In 1981 Borg defended his French Open title. It was Borg’s last Grand Slam victory. McEnroe finally ended Borg’s streak at Wimbledon, and then he beat him again at the U.S. Open.
After losing the first two sets (both tie breakers) to Jim Courier in quarter finals of the 1995 Australian Open, Pete Sampras fought back and won the third set 6-3 and the fourth set 6-4. At the start of the fifth set, Sampras heard a fan call out “C’mon do it for your coach.”
A few seconds later Sampras, sitting on a stool at center, held a towel to his face, and was sobbing uncontrollably. Sampras’s coach, Tim Gullikson had just been flown home after being hospitalized for dizzy spells. Gullikson died the following year (at the age of 44) from a brain tumor that had caused his dizziness.
‘Do It for Your Coach’ : An Emotional Sampras, With Ailing Gullikson on His Mind, Rallies From Two Sets Down to Beat Courier in the Australian Open
Pete Sampras stood still on center court at the Australian Open as if naked, his emotions exposed, his face awash with tears, his chest heaving.
“C’mon, honey, get in there,” his girlfriend, Delaina Mulcahy, said gently from the front row.
Across the net, Jim Courier shouted jokingly to his friend and rival, “Are you all right, Pete? We can do this tomorrow.” It was a gesture of love by Courier, who knew how much Sampras was hurting inside and wanted to help him stop crying. Read more LATimes
Sampras splashed some ice water on his face, got his composure back and won the fifth set (6-4) and the match.