let the games begin. yes, ladies and gentleman its that time of the year. July is fast approaching and that can mean amongst many other significant happenings that we would be seeing the worlds top tennis players in their sparkling whites display their talents in the green grass of wimbledon.
wimbledon has always been more equal than the other slams. because of its history, because of its tradition, because it is british..NO, to mr.K, it is matter of simple fact - the lawns at SW19, London have always made the best players become greatest. these are the moments that stand out for mr.k
1985 - "all rise for the king, long live the king". Mr.K's first wimbledon. unforgettable and stands out in the memory till now and will always stand, a blue eyed blond german set foot in the hallowed courts of aeltc..the sparkle in his eyes, the athleticism in his legs, the deftness in his volleys and the start of "boom boom" tennis. yes ladies and gentleman - "King Boris Becker" had arrived
1990 - "all good things come in threes" and so it was the case for wimbledon finals. stefan edberg and King Boris played their last of 3 consecutive finals and what a finale it was. the genial swede played the best tennis one could ever see for first two sets. the King looked listless and helpless. sadness engulfed. then something happened. Boris during the changeover cut his hair, trimmed his stubble in the center court of all places and went on to play the tennis he only can. winners all around. un returnable serve and in no time we were at 4-4 in the final set. what a nailbiter. what a script that these guys wrote. exhilarating quality. in the end the swede walked away with the trophy deservedly. no one lost that day. tennis won
1991 - "oh baby,poor gaby". if ever there was a chance for gabriella sabatini to get one over her former doubles partner in a slam, this was the match. she had beaten her 5 successive times before this match and it looked like lucky 6 was on the cards on july 6. it turned out to be one of the best finals. drama at its best. both women had one set each. it was the final set. gaby had chance to close out at 5-4 with match points, then again 6-5. she did not. she blew it away. she lost 8-6. oh yes, her former doubles partner ended up being mrs.andre agassi, who is the subject of the next highlight
1992 - "punk meets royalty". at the start of the tournament the talk was about this young american. he had been picked by many to become one of the greatest. and yes we did have a young american against a talented croatian in the finals. the only problem was that it wasn't the american everyone predicted - Pete Sampras but rather the young punk from vegas with the game's best return of serve and a stated aversion of grass court tennis. what an incredible talent. wimbledon was one tournament everyone said that he wouldn't win. ironically it was the first that he did and he remains the only player to have all the four in open era. the showman from nevada was the last man standing. what an incredible moment, when he finally fell down on the grass to kiss it and cry. the tennis buddha was born. awesome andre.
1997 - "rivalry, what rivalry". the 97 finals was billed as the one for ages. it was the best serve vs best return of serve. discipline vs genius, serve and volley vs baseline and pass. as far as Mr.K can remember, there was only one man playing tennis that day. the other was just to fill the role of losing finalist. the tennis of the winner was as close to perfection as one could get. he was in a zone that he only could reach. what a champion - Pete Sampras
2001 - "thank you emperor, welcome the new emperor". It was the passing of key ceremony. it had to happen. it always happens in wimbledon. Borg to mcenroe, Boris to Pete and this one. it wasn't the finals. it was a quater final match up. the key to the center court was handed over. the young pretender cried at the end of the match after dethroning the emperor. it was a kodak moment. the fans applauded. pete to roger.
2001 - "good goran final arrives". the amiable croat once said "there are 3 gorans ( 3 ;)) - bad, crazy and good inside me". we saw the crazy edition in 92 and 98. the bad one at 92. in 2001, considered as the best finals ever, the good goran finally arrived in the center court. as a wildcard, he conquered many opponents but most importantly he conquered the crazy goran inside him. he finally did what he was expected to do many times and he did it when he was almost forgotten. maybe the good goran shows up only on mondays. yes the final was played on monday. for the record, it was the amiable aussie patrick rafter who endured the pain of losing a wimbledon final for second time in a row. this time in 5 sets.
seven matches mr.k has listed down. but one player stands out the most. pete might be the greatest ever, roger might be the most graceful ever but no one held audience in the center court like boris. from the innocent 17 yr old to the tired old stubbled gent - he grew up in these courts. for him it was his home. it always seemed like it was the place where he left all his demons elsewhere and expressed himself. it was as if it was the only place he felt freedom. it was sheer joy and for people like mr.k it was sheer joy to see the King. it was not about his forehand, his serve, his volley. it was all about his "mystique", his "aura" and his "persona". it must have really been the only place he felt connected to himself. after his last match he went and experienced what he would later quote as "the most expensive five seconds of my life" :)
The Script that wasn't
and about the greatest of all - 7 time champion Pete. he ended his wimbledon in the court they call "graveyard of seeds" and never looked like a champion. it was the perfect script. he made it imperfect by winning the usopen that year. did he have to win the 14th grandslam. he shouldnt have. he should have stuck at 13.