Wimbledon’s best matches: Another Murray classic to a final for the ages

The best singles matches from a memorable fortnight in SW19.

Jonathan Veal
Monday 17 July 2023 06:00 BST
Andy Murray rolled back the years in an epic five-set clash with fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas (Victoria Jones/PA)
Andy Murray rolled back the years in an epic five-set clash with fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Wimbledon is over for another year but it once again lived up to expectations with plenty of memorable moments.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at five of the best singles matches in SW19 this year.

Andy Murray v Stefanos Tsitsipas

It is a shame the clash between two-time champion Andy Murray and fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas came as early as the second round and the pair did not disappoint over two days of action.

Starting around 7.30pm on the first Thursday, the first two tie-break sets were shared with Tsitsipas winning the first and Murray levelling up.

Murray immediately broke early in the third set which he then won, and was looking very good, but at 10.40pm the match was suspended due to the impending curfew.

They came back the following day and Murray could not regain his level, though would have had break points in the fourth set – that could have allowed him to then serve for the match – had he challenged an incorrect line call.

However, Tsitsipas was too good in the decider and sealed a 7-6 (3) 6-7 (2) 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-4 victory.

Holger Rune v Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

This third-round match may have gone on for a minute shy of four hours but it will always be remembered for the penultimate point.

After trading two sets apiece, with the Spaniard Davidovich Fokina going two sets to one up before Rune levelled, the fifth set went to a tiebreak.

That was typically tight and the first-to-10 breaker was tied at 8-8 with Fokina serving.

What happened next left everyone in shock as the 31st seed incredibly decided to produce an underarm serve, which Rune dispatched with ease to set up match point.

He then converted at the first attempt to seal a 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 7-6 (8) victory.

Elina Svitolina v Victoria Azarenka

A Sunday night clash on Court One produced great sporting theatre, full of drama and controversy.

Underpinning the fourth-round match between two mothers was some incredible tennis, but it was the first time a Ukrainian player had come up against a Russian or Belarussian at this year’s tournament.

Elina Svitolina, who went on to lose in the semi-finals, felt that she was playing for a higher cause than herself throughout the whole tournament and after battling from a set down produced a brilliant victory in a dramatic and tense deciding tie-break to win 2-6 6-4 7-6 (9).

But it was not until after the match that the real drama happened as Svitolina, as has been customary since the war in Ukraine began, refused to shake hands with Belarussian Azarenka, who was roundly booed by the Court One crowd when she then left the stadium promptly.

Ons Jabeur v Aryna Sabalenka

When Aryna Sabalenka was serving at 40-30, a point away from going 5-3 up in the second set of her semi-final against Ons Jabeur having already won the first, she cannot be blamed if she allowed herself to think of the final.

The second seed had put on a resolute display against last year’s beaten finalist, hitting her way out of trouble against the tricky Tunisian to put herself on the brink of victory.

But then Jabeur preyed on a moment of weakness from Sabalenka and won three successive games to send the match to a decider.

With momentum on her side she was able to control the third set to eventually post a 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-3 victory.

Carlos Alcaraz v Novak Djokovic

Wimbledon saved the best for last as Carlos Alcaraz claimed a first SW19 title in an epic final against defending champion Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian had been unbeaten on Centre Court since Andy Murray beat him in 2013 so it was going to take something special from the Spaniard to end that 45-match run – and he delivered.

An inauspicious start saw him fall a set down quickly and then Djokovic had a set point to go 2-0 up and surely on the way to a record-equalling eighth title.

But a missed backhand proved pivotal as Alcaraz mounted an astonishing comeback to go 2-1 up before Djokovic took it to a decider by winning the fourth set.

However, the 20-year-old world number one battled back brilliantly to win 1-6 7-6 (8) 6-1 3-6 6-4.

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