Ivanisevic v. Rafter 2001 Wimbledon - wow!

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
This just came up recently on Wimbledon's youtube channel.

I forgot how completely insane, crazy, dramatic this match was. Goran wins 9-7 in the fifth. Goran - ranked No. 125, in the tournament on a wildcard, semi-washed up.

Played on "People's Monday" the crowd is more like a World Cup soccer crowd than the traditional polite Wimbledon tennis crowd. Both player's fatiguing mentally and physically as the match wears on.

Goran finally breaks at 7-7, but the next game is down 15-30. He double faults TWICE on match point. His third match point, he gets a serve in and has a decent chance at winning the point, but rafter lobs him and he loses the point. He's semi laughing, crying, and praying during the whole ordeal. Goran's dad is stoic up in the stands - but you can just sense the tension and emotion within. Goran finally converts and his reaction is what you'd expect from someone who had lost three previous finals - two of them in 5 sets. And, his dad is bawling in the stands, even after Goran climbs up to hug his entourage.

Just a heck of a match and story line.
 
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bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
Apparently it was a terrible match and everything had to be changed to prevent that from ever happening again.
I assume you're referencing the end of fast-court grass tennis due to short points and serve-fests. I agree with your cynicism.

It was electric. Yes, there were plenty of one or two-shot points, as would be expected with these two players on this surface, but it was still fantastic.
 

BringBackWood

Professional
Everytime I watch I know Pat is playing the better tennis. He just needed to get more returns in play, no matter if it's an easy volley. Easy to say I know, but it seemed like Pat didn't play the man enough, going for more on the return than he could afford to against a Goran quite slow getting into the net (slower than previous), and with a whole load of wimbledon baggage that could see him miss easy volleys. Still a wonderful atmosphere. I don't think it could be replicated today. People are increasingly immune to be so capitivated by a single thing at a time, which is what made it special. Nevermind there were no great rallies, it was a battle of skill, wits, and heart. Nowadays they would all be checking their phones between changeovers and even serves.
 

NicoMK

Professional
Everytime I watch I know Pat is playing the better tennis. He just needed to get more returns in play, no matter if it's an easy volley. Easy to say I know, but it seemed like Pat didn't play the man enough, going for more on the return than he could afford to against a Goran quite slow getting into the net (slower than previous), and with a whole load of wimbledon baggage that could see him miss easy volleys. Still a wonderful atmosphere. I don't think it could be replicated today. People are increasingly immune to be so capitivated by a single thing at a time, which is what made it special. Nevermind there were no great rallies, it was a battle of skill, wits, and heart. Nowadays they would all be checking their phones between changeovers and even serves.
Ahah you're right about the damn phones. Great post, Pat deserved it too.
 

NicoMK

Professional
I don't know why people say things like that; it's like they're saying Goran was mostly serve and serves don't count as tennis. Goran was every bit as good, if not better, than Pat that day.
No I don't think so. It's just that maybe that day Pat played a better tennis, overall, than Goran. Players knew how to neutralise Goran's game, by returning his serve and making him volley, that's what BBW said. If we talk about Wimbledon finals only, this is what Agassi (in 1992) Sampras (in 1998) achieved to do. Pat, quite but not enough.

I didn't watch last year's final but I keep reading that Federer was a better player than Djokovic, however he lost. I agree with BBW, I think that Pat was the better player. Same as, I think, Becker in 1990 who lost against a superb Stefan Edberg.

But ultimately I agree with you too, in the end the better player (of the day) wins. All credits to Goran then.
 

Drob

Professional
I get what you're saying, but that's not how I remember it really. The stats are pretty even too.
This is all good. It was one of the most memorable and exciting matches, which makes it a candidate for one of the best ever. I guess I played semi-hookey from work that Monday because I distinctly remember watching the match in real time. A crazy magnificence.

I need to rewatch the match. I never thought Pat was clearly better that day and never thought the wrong guy won the match. But I was biased toward Rafter, who is one of my favorite players in the sport's history. So I was disappointed because I knew Patrick was living on borrowed time on the shoulder. But I was glad for Goran, who at the time I think deserved it just as much and who came through. Who could not be? A consistently top-rung Wimbledon contender, whom Sampras said was his toughest Wimbledon opponent. I think what was a little surprising was that at the time I thought, gosh, Rafter probably does not have enough shoulder left to make it back next year, but Goran might have a chance at back-to-back titles. But Goran declined quickly. Rafter finished 7th in the year-end rankings, but never played ATP or ITF again, after the 2001 Davis Cup WGF. The shoulder was shot. It was over. Goran played after 2001, with a total 13-19 record between 2002-04l

Sports - in July they are playing one of the matches of all time. By December their world-class days are only history.

And have to agree w NicoMK:

But ultimately I agree with you too, in the end the better player (of the day) wins. All credits to Goran then.
 

Crazy Finn

Hall of Fame
It's probably my favorite Wimbledon final ever. I really liked both players. It wasn't epic in terms of extreme high levels of play, but it was amazing in so many other ways.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Key point of the match for me is the one at 1:21:17. Rafter is serving at 1 set apiece, 2-3, 30-40. Rafter smacks a serve down the T. Ivanisevic has to lunge and floats a backhand that gives Rafter a pretty easy high backhand volley that he should be able to take crosscourt behind the lunging Goran to get it to deuce. Instead, Pat thinks it's going long and lets it go, but it clips the baseline to give Goran the service break and eventually the set. If Pat puts away the volley, I think he goes on to win the match (just my speculation, of course):

 
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DeathStrike

Guest
This just came up recently on Wimbledon's youtube channel.

I forgot how completely insane, crazy, dramatic this match was. Goran wins 9-7 in the fifth. Goran - ranked No. 125, in the tournament on a wildcard, semi-washed up.

Played on "People's Monday" the crowd is more like a World Cup soccer crowd than the traditional polite Wimbledon tennis crowd. Both player's fatiguing mentally and physically as the match wears on.

Goran finally breaks at 7-7, but the next game is down 15-30. He double faults TWICE on match point. His third match point, he gets a serve in and has a decent chance at winning the point, but rafter lobs him and he loses the point. He's semi laughing, crying, and praying during the whole ordeal. Goran's dad is stoic up in the stands - but you can just sense the tension and emotion within. Goran finally converts and his reaction is what you'd expect from someone who had lost three previous finals - two of them in 5 sets. And, his dad is bawling in the stands, even after Goran climbs up to hug his entourage.

Just a heck of a match and story line.
Best game of alll time IMO, crowd were amazing cleared out the corporate asswipes and wealthy pretend tennis fans
 
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Deleted member 22147

Guest
Apparently it was a terrible match and everything had to be changed to prevent that from ever happening again.
That's not true.

The type of grass was already changed for the 2001 edition. It was formerly 70% perennial rye with 30% creeping red fescue, and in 2001 it was changed to 100% perennial rye. It was only because it was a wet fortnight that the courts still played reasonably quick.

2002 was dryer and Henman said to the umpire "I'm playing at Wimbledon and it's the slowest court I've played on all year."
 

tonylg

Legend
That's not true.

The type of grass was already changed for the 2001 edition. It was formerly 70% perennial rye with 30% creeping red fescue, and in 2001 it was changed to 100% perennial rye. It was only because it was a wet fortnight that the courts still played reasonably quick.

2002 was dryer and Henman said to the umpire "I'm playing at Wimbledon and it's the slowest court I've played on all year."
I'm aware of when the grass when changed. I'm also aware of changes to balls, compaction of soil, etc. The whinging by clay court fans to change the playing conditions didn't start with a single match and as much as people love to talk about grass composition, the changes were multiple and occurred over a number of years. The fact is they were done to disadvantage players like Goran and Pat.
 
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Deleted member 22147

Guest
I'm aware of when the grass when changed. I'm also aware of changes to balls, compaction of soil, etc. The whinging by clay court fans to change the playing conditions didn't start with a single match and as much as people love to talk about grass composition, the changes were multiple and occurred over a number of years. The fact is they were done to disadvantage players like Goran and Pat.
The two-week in advance opening of the balls... I remember that. When was the first time they started doing that? I think it was 2004. Henman complained in 2005 that he had heard that this was happening and they agreed to abandon it for 2005, but then I remember it was all the talk in 2006 again. Are they still doing it?

I remember the actual balls getting slightly bigger and heavier, too, but that was later.
 

tonylg

Legend
The balls got bigger, they got heavier, the were designed to fluff up more, they were opened the week before, the day before .. whatever it took to advantage the baseline bots.
 
Ironic because the British hopes were serve and volleyers.
Key point of the match for me is the one at 1:21:17. Rafter is serving at 1 set apiece, 2-3, 30-40. Rafter smacks a serve down the T. Ivanisevic has to lunge and floats a backhand that gives Rafter a pretty easy high backhand volley that he should be able to take crosscourt behind the lunging Goran to get it to deuce. Instead, Pat thinks it's going long and lets it go[/MEDIA]
Cash says on commentary that Rafter couldn't really reach it and I tend to agree; certainly I wouldn't describe it as an easy volley, which is the main reason why Rafter didn't attempt it for me.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Ironic because the British hopes were serve and volleyers.


Cash says on commentary that Rafter couldn't really reach it and I tend to agree; certainly I wouldn't describe it as an easy volley, which is the main reason why Rafter didn't attempt it for me.
I wonder if Rafter has ever been asked about it. It seems to me that he couldn't get to it b/c he hesitated and then had to let it go whereas committing to it early would have led to led to a fairly straightforward put-away. But, looking at it again, Cash might be right.
 

bluetrain4

G.O.A.T.
The two-week in advance opening of the balls... I remember that. When was the first time they started doing that? I think it was 2004. Henman complained in 2005 that he had heard that this was happening and they agreed to abandon it for 2005, but then I remember it was all the talk in 2006 again. Are they still doing it?

I remember the actual balls getting slightly bigger and heavier, too, but that was later.
This is actually really important to note - changes to balls. It's often lost among our obsessive discussions about surfaces. You can drastically speed up or slow down the game with balls alone.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
This is actually really important to note - changes to balls. It's often lost among our obsessive discussions about surfaces. You can drastically speed up or slow down the game with balls alone.
Wimbledon(and Queens) attempted to slow down the game with a new ball in 1995(after the outcry over the 94 final). Guess it didn't work out(but imagine if Agassi won...)

 
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Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
“The balls will help strong servers who are versatile, who can hit through the pace of the court, like a Sampras or a (Boris) Becker or a Goran (Ivanisevic),” Agassi said. “You take smaller, more consistent players who depend on sneaking in a few first serves every now and then - all of a sudden 5 mph comes off their first serve.

“But the balls help the returner, somebody who likes hitting good returns, good passing shots. The ball behaves a lot more. You can get it low a little easier, a little heavier. But the bottom line is I think the heavier balls actually hurt the smaller guys more. You take 5 mph away from Pete, he’s still serving 115. You take 5 mph away from me, and I’m serving 103.”

Sampras won the tuneup tournament at Queen’s Club using the new balls, and he agreed with Agassi’s assessment.
“I agree with him 100 percent on both things he said,” Sampras said. “It does give the returner a litle bit more time to hit because the serves aren’t coming in quite as fast as last year.”

Serves and returns aside, the new balls will not guarantee longer rallies. The nature of grass courts virtually assures quick points, aces and service winners.

 

Deki

Rookie
I was elated when Ivanisevic won. Like him a lot.

But watching this whole match again... I don't know. It wasn't pretty tennis, I'll put it this way.
It was more mental fight than tennis match between those two! But as always Goran was the biggest opponent to himself.
I was really happy when GI won and every time when I watch that match I’m almost crying! Goran deserves to win Wimby, cause two times he was close. And it was the only slam where he got biggest chances!
Even British filmed a movie where Englishman won the Wimby with same scenario! So angry they was...
 

Nordung

New User
I was elated when Ivanisevic won. Like him a lot.

But watching this whole match again... I don't know. It wasn't pretty tennis, I'll put it this way.
Well if your definition of a nice tennis is endless baseline rallies then it wasn't. These were two S&V players one of them a big server playing on fast surface. It was a fast, attacking tennis, almost impossible to keep the ball in play for a long. If i had to choose my definition of a nice tennis with a little bit of everything then this would be it.

 

WYK

Hall of Fame
I don't know why people say things like that; it's like they're saying Goran was mostly serve and serves don't count as tennis. Goran was every bit as good, if not better, than Pat that day.
Not only that, But Goran gave Sampras a very hard time as well.
Fast court tennis used to be explosive. With amazing acrobatics and volleys. Now, acrobatics is a tweener and Monfils leaping in the air when it is completely unwarranted(still love him, tho).
If you wanted rallys, there were several other events, including one played on dirt, one could watch.
Now every game, EVERY game, is almost exactly the same regardless of venue. It's like settling on a new car that's average.
It's nice enough if you don't know what you're missing. We used to have rally racing, formula 1, and nascar tennis - now we only have nascar tennis.

 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
I thought the crowd at the 2019 Wimbledon final was insane....this is on another level. The crowd reaction in the 2nd set when Rafter hit the FH pass to break was amazing. Never seen so many Aussie flags flying in one tennis stadium like that.
Legendary tournament. First with Fed beating Sampras, then the Rafter-Agassi classic, and of course Ivanisevic's incredible comeback win.
 

tonylg

Legend
I thought the crowd at the 2019 Wimbledon final was insane....this is on another level. The crowd reaction in the 2nd set when Rafter hit the FH pass to break was amazing. Never seen so many Aussie flags flying in one tennis stadium like that.
Legendary tournament. First with Fed beating Sampras, then the Rafter-Agassi classic, and of course Ivanisevic's incredible comeback win.
As a tournament, 2019 was a snore-fest compared to 2001.

Goran's story wasn't just the final, but the run to get there: Moya, Roddick, Rusedski, Safin, Henman, Rafter .. as a wildcard.

Henman going deep was always massive news (his 3rd semi in 4 years) and of course he eliminated Federer after Fed beat Sampras. All of England was thinking this was his time. Nope, Goran did him in a five set epic.

Agassi dropped only one set in his run to the semi with Rafter. He then lost to Rafter 8-6 in the fifth of another match worthy of a final.

In 2019, the quarters contained such modern day grass court great as Goffin, Pella, Bautista Agut and Nishikori :rolleyes: That says it all, really.
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
As a tournament, 2019 was a snore-fest compared to 2001.

Goran's story wasn't just the final, but the run to get there: Moya, Roddick, Rusedski, Safin, Henman, Rafter .. as a wildcard.

Henman going deep was always massive news (his 3rd semi in 4 years) and of course he eliminated Federer after Fed beat Sampras. All of England was thinking this was his time. Nope, Goran did him in a five set epic.

Agassi dropped only one set in his run to the semi with Rafter. He then lost to Rafter 8-6 in the fifth of another match worthy of a final.

In 2019, the quarters contained such modern day grass court great as Goffin, Pella, Bautista Agut and Nishikori :rolleyes: That says it all, really.
I wasn't trying to compare the tournaments- W19 was not an impressive tournament. I just meant the crowd in the final.
 

tonylg

Legend
I wasn't trying to compare the tournaments- W19 was not an impressive tournament. I just meant the crowd in the final.
The crowd in the final were like that because of the amazing build up. With Sampras being beating by Federer, Rafter was the favourite and that was cemented with his win over Agassi. They'd been riding the Henman wave and transfered that emotion to Goran. It was about great tennis and stories, not just being a fanboi of one particular player.

2019 had two matches, the Fedal semi and then the final. Pretty much the story of the entire decade.
 

Crazy Finn

Hall of Fame
(I posted this in the "best title run thread" but it almost fits better here)

Wimbledon 2001 is my favorite tournament of all time.

I watched a lot of tennis back in the day, but I spent a fair amount of time at my buddy's apartment in southern MN that summer, he had cable, we played tennis - and watched tennis. I actually got to see way more of that tournament than I usually did at home on network TV (also USO 2001). So, I saw a lot of matches. I watched Sampras / Federer live. Also, Sampras / Barry Cowen (pretty good match), Agassi / Keifer, Agassi / Escude. I remember catching some of Henman / Martin, Henman / Federer, Ivanisevic / Rusedski, and Federer / Malisse (for some reason). I'm probably missing a few, but when I looked through the draw I remembered many of them. I don't remember Ivanisevic / Safin or Roddick. Must have missed those.

I watched pretty much every minutes of the semis and obviously, the final. Frankly, I would have been fine with any of the semifinalists winning it, I wasn't sure how I felt about Henman, but it would have been historic if he'd won (he grew on me later). I was really pulling for Goran, though I really liked Rafter, too and was a huge Agassi fan. Frankly, the absence of Pete was a huge breath of fresh air - at least for me - and it didn't result in whatever the 96 tournament was. Those semifinals didn't disappoint - that Agassi / Rafter match is exceptional, one of the all time Wimbledon classics. Wimbledon could have used a good, dramatic final - there weren't a ton of them in the 90's (90, 92, and 98, maybe missing one) with Pete's dominance, and it delivered on that.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Probably the most electrifying crowd/atmosphere ever at the stodgy All England Club, if not the most electrifying period in all of modern tennis history. And we'll never see its like again, given the extreme odds of a 125th-ranked wildcard winning the whole shebang and now that the newly installed roof has all but precluded another final on People's Monday.

I don't think it speaks well for the powers that be in tennis that all the fancy "improvements" have made the sport less democratic not only in terms of audience participation but in scope and diversity of talent it needs to attract, and we have glorious examples like this one to remind them of the maxim that more money or structure doesn't necessarily mean more success or excellence.

As to the charge that the '01 final wasn't the most scintillating tennis, correct but you need to keep in mind what these two players were up against: each of them going for his first Wimbledon title, probably with the realization that this is their last very hurrah, and in front of a boisterous-AF crowd for good measure cheering every point, which I reckon would render even a Borg or Sampras a tiny bit nervous. If anything these two are to be commended for handling the pandemonium as well as they did, and that lob by Rafter to save the 2nd CP has to be one of the gutsiest ever:

 

tonylg

Legend
Look at the tennis they played to get there. They had both already gone 14 rounds, not a little light sparring.
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
Probably the most electrifying crowd/atmosphere ever at the stodgy All England Club, if not the most electrifying period in all of modern tennis history. And we'll never see its like again, given the extreme odds of a 125th-ranked wildcard winning the whole shebang and now that the newly installed roof has all but precluded another final on People's Monday.

I don't think it speaks well for the powers that be in tennis that all the fancy "improvements" have made the sport less democratic not only in terms of audience participation but in scope and diversity of talent it needs to attract, and we have glorious examples like this one to remind them of the maxim that more money or structure doesn't necessarily mean more success or excellence.

As to the charge that the '01 final wasn't the most scintillating tennis, correct but you need to keep in mind what these two players were up against: each of them going for his first Wimbledon title, probably with the realization that this is their last very hurrah, and in front of a boisterous-AF crowd for good measure cheering every point, which I reckon would render even a Borg or Sampras a tiny bit nervous. If anything these two are to be commended for handling the pandemonium as well as they did, and that lob by Rafter to save the 2nd CP has to be one of the gutsiest ever:

Agreed. I wish I had been a tennis fan back in 2001, because even watching it in replay knowing all the results was intense AF. I'd have no trouble calling it the GOAT tennis tournament (it's a race between W01, AO12, AO17, and W18 IMO).
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Agreed. I wish I had been a tennis fan back in 2001, because even watching it in replay knowing all the results was intense AF. I'd have no trouble calling it the GOAT tennis tournament (it's a race between W01, AO12, AO17, and W18 IMO).
Going farther back, I'd add the 1980 U.S. Open:

QF: Borg coming back from 2-1 sets down to beat Tanner in 5. McEnroe beating Lendl in 4. Kriek beating Fibak in a 5th set tiebreaker​
SF: McEnroe beating Connors in a 5th set tiebreaker. Borg coming back from 2-0 sets down to beat Kriek in 5.​
F: McEnroe beating Borg in 5 sets.​
 

Crazy Finn

Hall of Fame
Look at the tennis they played to get there. They had both already gone 14 rounds, not a little light sparring.
Ivanisevic's path to his slam:

R1: def Fredrik Jonsson (Q) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. R2: def (21) Carlos Moya 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. R3: def Andy Roddick 7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. R4: def Greg Rusedski 7-6, 6-4, 6-4.
QF: (4) Marat Safin (defending USO champ) 7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6. SF (6) Tim Henman 7-5, 6-7, 0-6, 7-6, 6-3. F (3) Pat Rafter 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7.

There's only 1 guy who is a "who?" in there. Roddick was young (win the USO 2 years later), Rusedski was a bit past his peak year (97), but then again, so was Goran. Safin was the defending USO champ, Henman was (almost) always in the last 8 or 4 at Wimbledon for almost a decade. Rafter should have come away with a Wimbledon title if it weren't for Goran's magic run and finding Pete in the finals. Goran hit 213 aces in his path to the title, a record that stood until 2018.

It's not Nalbandian beating Rafa, Novak, and Federer in 3 successive rounds, but a solid run. Plus, it's Wimbledon, not a Master's series and best of 5.

Also, I remember Goran talked about "Good Goran," "Bad Goran," and "Goran 9-1-1" who seemed to come out in emergencies, which he needed a several times. His interviews were pretty entertaining as well. What a character.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Agreed. I wish I had been a tennis fan back in 2001, because even watching it in replay knowing all the results was intense AF. I'd have no trouble calling it the GOAT tennis tournament (it's a race between W01, AO12, AO17, and W18 IMO).
I didn't see the '01 final live myself. Wasn't even following tennis all that closely at the time, and even if I did I probably had to be in class anyway. It speaks volumes that the match is so fondly spoken of by those of us then non-fans, of course.

As for the other Slams I frankly don't see what was so special about them:

'12 AO - The Nole-Muzz SF was just about the most boring 5-set SF I've seen (and I don't say that as a slight, I saw most of the whole thing on replay and it really felt like a chore), and the Nole-Rafa final was a war of attrition more than anything else - an enticing matchup if it were held at RG, but not on HC.

'17 AO - The Rafa-Dimi SF was a surprisingly good one and the final of course was a classic, but despite its length I never felt Fed was in serious trouble against Stan in the other SF. What else you got?

'18 Wim - The final was a dud, which alone disqualifies the event in my book. The Anderson-Isner SF was only a slightly superior version of the Isner-Mahut marathon, with poor returning by both and excess caution on 2nd serves (anyone who has seen this match and still says Isner's 2nd serve is better than Pistol's is not to be taken seriously) which allowed the match to drag far more than was necessary. Granted the Novak-Rafa SF was stellar, but it's the sort of baseline play that gets overhyped by the younger fans who grew up in this era and don't realize what a powerhouse Krajicek, Ivanisevic or Stich could do to these guys on grass. I will add, however, that I didn't catch any of the QFs, so you might have something of a case here.

A better case for me, if you wanna stay on the AO path, is '09 which saw those two classic 5-setters along with Fed's nail-biting escape act vs. Birdman and a 3rd-round corker between Gonzo and Gasquet. (I'll admit I don't remember the Dasco-Muzz 5-setter being all that exciting.) Or even '12 which IMO featured the best AO match of the HC era between Novak and Stan and another 5-setter between Fed and Tsonga. (Here, again, Muzz comes up short if through little fault of his own as that SF victory over Fed was about as comfortable/uneventful as 5-setters go.)
 
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