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Greatest comeback matches of the decade - Women

By Rohit Sharma    + Follow

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The past decade has seen some of the best matches and with these leading ladies in-charge, there sure has been plenty of room for on-court emotions and classic display of that elusive - never-say-die' attitude that made these tennis players, a lot more than just a STAR.

The Sportsworld can easily be considered the best source of dramatic entertainment. An entertaining match does not just call for power and technique, but the drama that holds binds the spectator spellbound with a nail-biting tussle. Unlike the drama we seek in other sources of entertainment, there are no pre-decided scripts here, no direction, just pure tenacity and the WILL TO WIN.

The history of tennis has witnessed many such occasions where the expected 'vanquished' has come from the brink of defeat to rejoice in 'victorious' mirth. The past decade has seen some of the best matches and with these leading ladies in-charge, there sure has been plenty of room for on-court emotions and classic display of that elusive - never-say-die' attitude that made these tennis players, a lot more than just STARS.

Let's take a look at the 10 greatest comeback matches of the decade (2000-09) -

 

 

10.

Serena Williams beat Elena Dementieva 2009 Wimbledon semifinal -

No Tennis-list can ever be complete without a mention of one of it's most driving forces, Serena Williams. There is a reason, why Serena is such a power to reckon with. There is also a reason, why she has such a huge number of Grand Slams in her kitty. The last of her 11 Grand Slam victories didn't just come at the expense of 5 time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, it also included the mighty Russian Elena Dementieva, who looked in phenomenal form throughout the tournament. Serena lost the opening set in a tight tie-break but bounced back to win the second 7-5 to level the match at one-set a piece. The third set saw a real scuffle between these powerful women as both Williams and Dementieva looked in punishing form to win their initial service games. It was Dementieva who drew first blood then to race to a 3-1 lead just to watch Williams strike harder than ever to get the break back. After saving a match point at 5-4, Williams screamed in sheer excitement, thereby making clear her intentions about the match. The third set went on for 14 games with Williams grabbing the decisive break in the second last game to close the 6-7(4), 7-5, 8-6 victory and reach the final, where she beat elder sister Venus to win her third Wimbledon crown.

 

9.

Mary Pierce beat Elena Likhovtseva 2005 Kremlin Cup quarterfinal -

 

 

Two time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce's career has been overshadowed by injuries and personal life crisis with her father and coach, Jim Pierce, who had been banned by the WTA between 1993 and 1998 following a series of incidents including verbal abuse at Pierce's opponents and spectators. Pierce has always been known as a very calm and composed player on-court but at the time of need, there seemed to be only a handful who could match the fierce competitiveness that the Frenchwoman produced on court. One of her best victories came at the quarterfinal stage at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow where she beat local favourite Russian Elena Likhovtseva after saving six match points in a row. Pierce won the opening set 7-5, but lost her momentum in the second losing it 4-6. The final set saw both players refuse any service breaks and as the match went to a deciding tie-break, it was Likhovtseva who stepped in and raced to a 6-0 lead. But the tenacious Pierce denied them all, one after the other to snatch 8 points in a row to win the match 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(6). It was one of the rare occasions where a player had comeback from such a huge deficit to win the tussle.

 

 

8.

Monica Seles beat Lindsay Davenport 2003 WTA Championships pre-quarterfinal -

Many believe that the picture of women's tennis would have been a lot different, had that unfortunate incident not happened in Hamburg in 1993 that left reigning tennis queen Monica Seles covered in blood. And rightly so, as the two year hiatus pushed the original teen-prodigy's career in a limbo. One of Seles' best matches came in her last full year on tour in 2002 at the season ending Chase Championships. In her round 16 match against American Lindsay Davenport, Seles lost the opening set 3-6. The second set witnessed the classic display of grit and determination from Seles, who saved 7 match points on different occasions to win the set in a tie-break 7-6(6). With a routine 6-3 demolition in the third set, Seles reached the quarterfinals of the event. With a semifinals loss to Venus Williams, Seles gave way to young blood and bid adieu to the elusive season ending championships.

 

7.

Venus Williams beat Justine Henin 2002 Bausch and Lomb Tennis Championship -

 

It would be fairly safe to view Venus Williams' name with the same sacrilege as the term 'comeback' as the tennis-diva has given some of the best results of her career after coming back from the brink of defeat. Venus possesses a rare 'never-say-die' attitude coupled with her refusal to compromise with her style of play. One of the best displays of such attributes came in the final of the 2002 Bausch & Lomb Tennis Championships, where Venus beat Belgian star Justine Henin to clinch the title. Venus started the match at the green clay on a bad note, losing the opening set 2-6. Henin continued to extract errors from the Williams' forehand before racing to a 4-0 lead when Venus struck back with double the force to reel off five games in a row and level the match by winning the second set 7-5. The third set saw the ultimate struggle with both players trading a quick exchange of breaks, but it was Williams who prevailed in a nail-biting tie-break, winning the match 2-6, 7-5, 7-6(5).

 

6.

Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 2005 Australian Open Semifinal

Serena Williams seems to have established a love-affair with comeback matches as she features for the second time in our list of the 10 greatest comeback matches. She is the only player to have won three Grand Slam events after saving match points, one of which is in our countdown. Her victory over Maria Sharapova in the semifinals of the 2005 Australian Open came as a huge relief for the Williams, who lost the finals of the 2004 Wimbledon to her Russian nemesis. Serena made an error prone start to the match, losing the opening set 2-6. Sharapova lead the second set 5-4 before squandering three game points to let Serena roar back into the match. The final set saw Serena save three match points at 5-4 before registering a marathon 2-6, 7-5, 8-6 win to reach the finals of the championship where she beat Lindsay Davenport to lift the trophy.

5.

Serena Williams beat Kim Clijsters 2003 Australian Open semifinal -

 

 

And here she is once again with the same venue, same stage and evidently the same result. The 2003 Australian Open triumph is special for Serena Williams in many ways as this saw the completion of her 'Serena-Slam' and her fourth consecutive victory over sister Venus Williams in a Grand Slam final. But this historic victory wasn't all -' hunky dory'- as Williams survived a scare in the semifinals against Belgian Kim Clijsters, who had a myriad of opportunities to close out the match. Williams started the match on a bad note losing the opening set 4-6. The second set saw Williams break Ckijsters twice to clinch the set 6-3 and level it at one set a piece. The third set showcased the best of Williams, who squandered Clijsters' massive 5-1 lead by reeling off 6 games in a row, saving two match points at 4-5 en route to a dramatic win that featured several injury breaks. With another three set tussle in the final against Venus Williams, Serena achieved a rare feat of holding all four Grand Slams at a time.

 

 

4.

Venus Williams beat Jennifer Capriati 2001 Sony Ericsson Open final -

 

Many viewers must be wondering as to why there are so many matches in the list involving a WILLIAMS? The answer is not only easily explanable, but also fairly solid. It's the domination of the Williams sisters that has been unchallenged throughout the decade, with sisters sharing 18 Grand Slam titles between them. The elder Williams may have lagged behind sister Serena in the number of Grand Slam wins, but has numerous matches to her credit that give the testimony of her courage and conviction to pull a thriller in her favour. In one of the best matches of her career, Williams beat Jennifer Capriati in the final of the 2001 Sony Ericsson Open. Williams lost the opening set 4-6 after struggling to find form. The second set saw a complete demolition of the top seed as Capriati managed to win just a game. The third set produced some of the most nail-biting tennis in the history of women's game as Williams saved eight championship points at different occasions by using every arrow in her armoury to seal the victory 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4). This was Williams third Miami title after her triumph in 1998 and 1999.

3.

Serena Williams beat Justine Henin 2007 Sony Ericsson Open final -

 

 

As we approach the top three matches in our countdown, Serena Williams continues her loyalty with the list to feature one more time with the help of another exciting come-from-behind victory, this time against arch rival Justine Henin in the final of the 2007 Sony Ericsson Open. Serena received a bagle from the fiesty Belgian in the opening set and stood at the brink of defeat when Henin held two match points while serving at 5-4. Serena denied them all and seized the set after winning three games in a row. The final set saw the serving brilliance of Williams, who won the decider 6-3 to win the fourth of her five Miami titles and register one of the greatest comebacks, the women's game has ever seen.

 

2.

Justine Henin beat Jennifer Capriati 2003 US Open semifinal -

 

Seven time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin finally makes it to the list, and this time for all the right reasons for her rewarding semifinal win against Jennifer Capriati at the 2003 US Open. Henin, who is famous for her marvellous single-handed backhand, considered by many as the best in the women's game, also brings the best court coverage despite her 5'5'' frame against the NBA conventions of the Williamses and Sharapovas of the sport. In the 2003 semifinal, Henin lost the opening set 4-6 as Capriati raced to a 5-3 lead in the second set and was just points away from a straight sets victory when Henin bounced back and reeled 4 games in a row to level the match one set a piece. The third set saw the howling support from home fans as Capriati jumped to a 5-2 lead and as she was about to close the match at 5-2, 30-15, Henin hit back one last time and won four games in a row to eventually force a match-deciding tie-break, which she won 7-4 to put an end to a marathon two hour and 45 minute battle with one of the greatest comeback wins in the sport.

1.

Jennifer Capriati beat Martina Hingis 2002 Australian Open final -

 

And the No.1 comeback of this decade features 'comeback queen' Jennifer Capriati's gallant win over former world number one Martina Hingis in the final of the 2002 Australian Open. There are many reasons why we place this win on top of our list, but before we discuss them , let's take you back to re-live the sheer excitement of this phenomenal final. Amidst a searing 90 degree temperature, Capriati opened the match with a flurry of unforced errors that saw the Swiss-Miss wrap up the opening set 6-4. The second set did not change the story for Capriati as Hingis raced to a 4-0 lead, convincing everyone except Capriati that she was destined to lift the Daphne-Akhurst trophy this time. Although, Capriati had a different take on this situation as she bounced back to win 4 games in a row and saved two match points at 5-4 to push the set into the tie-break. The tie-break witnessed Hingis literally threatened by Capriati's grit and tenacious approach as one after the other, all the opportunities to close out the match were squandered by the American's comeback trail and as she clinched the second set 9-7 in the tie-break, there was no stopping her. With a quick third set wrap-up, Capriati became the only player to save four championship points to claim a Grand Slam title. The defending champion's ability to secure another win in Melbourne was under critical review as a nagging hip injury and lack of preparation, were both against the 2001 champion. But Capriati defied all odds to emerge victorious one more time in Australia. After the win, a jubilant Capriati said - "It will be up there as one of the greatest matches I have played." And so this brings down the curtain to our countdown to the greatest comeback matches of the decade.

 

 

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Posted By Micadavenport,   Posted about 681 days and 19 hours ago

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All such iconic matches, do you think we'll see the likes of these again? I hope so.

Posted By AWDean,   Posted about 1802 days and 14 hours ago

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Chanda Rubin over Jana Novotna - 1995 French Open. Down 0-5, 0-40 in the 3rd set - can't come back from much further than that!

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