It was to be a routine fourth-round match. The seven-time Wimbledon champion, meeting a little known teenager seeded 19. Little did the centre court spectator know that he would be treated to an absolute thriller, let alone the fact that men’s tennis would never see the Grass Master triumph here ever again.Some call it “passing of the baton”; others, “the end of an era”. On July 2, 2001, at the Centre Court in the All England Lawn Tennis club, Roger Federer, a 19-year-old from Switzerland, created history by stunning defending champion Pete Sampras 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7, 7-5.Federer took the first set after a tie-breaker thanks to a superb serve and volley game. In the second set, Federer loses 5-7. The third set saw some high quality tennis from Federer, romping up serves that the opponent across the net . .The epic match ended as Federer smashed a forehand winner, and emotionally sank to his knees. He held the number one rank for 237 weeks in a row. and would go on to be spoken of in the same breath as Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, and, Sampras himself. As a song goes, “Now the old king is dead, long live the king!” the match signalled the end of Sampras’ era of supremacy. The new king would go on to lose the semi-final to Tim Henman but would come back to rule the grass court winning five consecutive titles from 2003 to 2007. He held the number one rank for 237 weeks in a row, and would go on to be spoken of in the same breath as Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, and, Sampras himself.
HAMSINI RAVI, I Year, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune
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