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By Rohit Sharma
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Sports stage one of the finest display of a range of emotions that is at times absent in even the best of Operas, infact it can sometimes be more emotional than the second act of Aida. After all, for a sportsperson, the playground becomes an inseperable part of his or her character which sees him through some of the most difficult phases in life. Tennis, being an individual sport, brings this sentimental element with grace and vivacity, and sometimes with tears and ecstatic jubilation.
We continue with our efforts to bring you such emotional triumphs !!!
5. Andre Agassi beat Andrei Medvedev 1999 French Open Final
The 1999 French Open final was one of the most emotional matches ever as it was the stage that saw Andre Agassi create history by becoming the fifth man ever to win a career grand slam after his wins in Wimbledon (92), US Open (94) and Australian Open (95).
Agassi started the match on a low note and lost the first two sets 6-1, 6-2. However, the gutsy efforts from the American saw him bounce back and seal the victory in the next three closely fought sets. Future wife Steffi Graf also made the event special by winning the last of her 22 Grand Slam titles in Paris the same year. The year also saw Agassi move up to rankings from 141 in the world to No.1 when he won the US Open to end the year as the Numero Uno of the tennis world.
4. Pete Sampras beat Patrick Rafter 2000 Wimbledon Final
Tennis Legend Pete Sampars was famous for keeping his emotions under wraps in public. Infact, even the biggest of victories could not fetch more than just a huge grunt or an elegant fist pumping but it all changed in 2000 when the American reached the fourth consecutive Wimbledon final which presented him with the opportunity to surpass Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slam titles.
For the first time in his career, Sampras' parents, had flown specially from USA to witness their beloved son's historic triumph and the American ensured that they did. Sampras won the final in four closely fought sets and created history by winning 13 Grand Slam singles titles including a record tying 7 Wimbledon crowns (currently tied with William Renshaw) The victory sparked the discussion around the world whether Sampras should be termed all the Greatest of all times. Although, to a humble Sampras, childhood idol Rod Laver would always be the brightest star of the tennis world.
3. Jana Novotna beat Nathalie Tauziat 1998 Wimbledon Final
As far as the slick lawns of Wimbledon are concered, no one can ever forget the 1993 Wimbledon final when Czech star Jana Novotna led Steffi Graf 4-1 30 -15 in the final set and from then on literally succumbed to defeat, giving way to the German superstar to bounce back and win her fifth Wimbledon title. Novotna's emotional outburst on the shoulders of the Duchess of Kent left millions of fans sobbing.
However, this is not the match which, according to our list is worthy of an inclusion in this particular list. The match that staged one of the most sentimental victories in the sporting arena came after another Wimbledon final loss and a long wait of five years when Novotna finally found the title glory. En route to the title triumph, Novotna beat players like Venus Williams and Martina Hingis and in the final beat French veteran Nathalie Tauziat. As the straight sets match came to an end, Novotna fell on her knees, buried her face in her palms and shed the tears of unparalleled joy for this was the moment that could not be taken away from her for the rest of her life.
Novotna later revealed Duchess of Kent's words of praise during the trophy presentation - "I was right, I told you third time lucky and this year you have made it."
2. Pete Sampras beat Jim Courier 1995 Australian Open Quarterfinal
Even though the American tennis legend found it challenging to express his emotions in public, Sampras could not hide his acute anguish during his quarterfinal match against Jim Courier at the 1995 Australian Open in Melbourne.
Prior to the match, Sampras learned that his longtime coach and friend Tim Gullickson is suffering from Brain Cancer and is terminally ill. As the match began, the moments of pain brought those hidden emotions to the fore that had been kept under wraps so far and what followed was heart-wrenching. Sampras soon found himself down with two sets to love in the match. Amidst the high voltage drama and sympathy wave from the fans, Sampras managed to stage an exceptional comeback in the match.
At one point, when Sampras was serving, one fan yelled out - "Come on, Pete do it for your coach." The American could not hold his tears and started crying, but then regrouped himself and fired an ace. Despite such an astonishing effort, Sampras could not stop compatriot and eventual champion Andre Agassi from winning the final. But Sampras' memorable win went down in history as one of the most emotional triumphs the world had ever seen.
1. Goran Ivanisevic beat Patrick Rafter 2001 Wimbledon Final
During the late nineties, there was a survey conducted among tennis enthusiasts to determine the biggest under-achiever and over-achiever in the sport. There were doubts about who should be labelled as the over-achiever but the poll indicated that American Michael Chang fit the billing best with 34 singles titles that included a Grand Slam despite a small frame in front of the ATP Giants. However, when it came to finding out the under-achiever, the results unanimously pointed out one name - Goran Ivanisevic.
For someone who had arguably the best serve in tennis, winning a Grand Slam wasn't beyond reach. However, the tall Croat found himself with the runner-up plate at the Green grass of wimbledon on three occasions (92, 94, 98) due to his fragile temperament. When Goran Ivanisevic was granted a wild card at the 2001 Wimbledon championship, many saw it as merely a kind gesture by the All England Lawn Tennis Club, but what was followed was no less than a fairytale. Ivanisevic beat some of the best players in the world to reach the final where he was pitted against two time Grand Slam champion Patrick Rafter.
The match exceeded all expectations and when Ivanisevic served for the match in the fifth set at 8-7, he found himself struggling to even hold the racquet firmly. But with a winning serve, the Croat buried his face in the historic court that witnessed his fall the past three times for totally different reasons. The dream was finally a reality and Ivanisevic was crowned the first ever Wild card Grand Slam champion in the history of the sport.
"I think I'm dreaming," said Ivanisevic after his unbelievable triumph. "Somebody is going to wake me up and tell me, 'Man, you didn't win.'" "This is what I was waiting all my life,"
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