5 Greatest Wimbledon Champions of the Open Era
The Wimbledon Championships have played host to some of the greatest talent in professsional tennis. We have picked out the five all-time greatest players from the Open Era who have dominated in Wimbledon more than any of their rivals:
1. Pete Sampras
‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras dominated men’s tennis throughout the 1990s. During this period, the hard-hitting American became the first player to in the open era to win seven Wimbledon titles. Sampras took his first Wimbledon title in 1993, then went on to win the tournament every year for the rest of that decade with the exception of 1996, when he lost to eventual champion Richard Krajicek in the quarterfinals.
Throughout this period, Sampras demonstrated an unshakeable focus and determination, and emerged as victor in some of the most one-sided Wimbledon finals in the history of the tournament. Wimbledon provided Sampras with the perfect platform to show off his brilliant serve-and-volley game, in which he demonstrated his ability to end rallies quickly and with clinical precision.
Roger Federer effortlessly filled the void left by Pete Sampras when Sampras retired from men’s tennis. The Swiss maestro announced his arrival on the world stage with his first Wimbledon title in 2003, and proceeded to embark on a record-setting winning streak, which provided him with a record-matching seven Wimbledon titles in ten years.
Like the other great Wimbledon champions, Federer’s achievements at Wimbledon have, to a great extent, been the product of his ability to maintain focus and remain calm whilst under pressure. Federer’s whip-like forehand combines with an unreadable serve to produce a style ideally suited to the grass courts of Wimbledon.
3. Bjorn Borg
Possessed of an ice-cold demeanour, Bjorn Borg was known by the nickname of ‘Ice Borg’ during his heyday. The Swedish player forged his legend as one of the greats of the men’s game at Wimbledon, where his graceful conduct and athletic presence were often offset by the tempestuous behavior of his great rival, John McEnroe.
Borg’s five Wimbledon titles are often credited to his exceptional athletic prowess and fitness, as the Swede is rumoured to have had an unusually low resting heart-rate throughout his career. However, it was his impressive skill on the baseline that ultimately turned him into a champion. His signature shot was his masterful baseline forehand, a dazzling stroke sent over the net with immense power and topspin.
4. Rod Laver
© AP Photo
The first great player of the Open Era won the Wimbledon Open Championships four times during his career. Rod Laver is best known for winning Wimbledon in 1962, on his way to the only grand slam ever achieved by a men’s singles player in a single season. Laver’s achievements at Wimbledon are also notable for the fact that he achieved two of his Wimbledon titles in the twilight of his career.
Laver was one of the greatest exponents of the serve-and-volley game that has proved to be so effective on the grass courts of Wimbledon. The Australian possessed a feather-soft touch, that allowed him to hit winning drop volleys, and a blistering forehand, which routinely won points from well behind the baseline. Laver was also one of the first exemplars of spin shots, and had the ability to hit balls with both top- and under-spin.
5. Boris Becker
Boris Becker’s feats at Wimbledon during the 1980s virtually defined this era of the Open Championship. In 1985, a 17 year old Becker became the first unseeded player to win a Wimbledon title, defeating Kevin Curren in 4 sets in the final of the tournament. A year later he successfully defended his title by defeating Ivan Lendl in straight sets.
Becker was one of the first players to routinely win points with his powerful service game. Nicknamed ‘Baron von Slam’, Becker commanded a distinctive rocking motion during his serve, which allowed him to put tremendous power into his shots. However, Becker’s game was not one-dimensional, as he was also recognised as one of the most courageous and skillful volley players of his era.
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