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HOUDINI ACTS AT THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB

Posted By Val Febbo  
04/07/2021
22:00 PM

To conquer a Grand Slam a player must rely on an abundance of skill, supreme fitness, some luck and an ability to overcome significant challenges from opponents more often than not.

Fans have been especially marvelled by the ability of the Big Three in Federer, Nadal and Djokovic to essentially defy logic and win matches that they have looked down and out in.

At Wimbledon this week, Federer was pushed to the absolute brink by French journeyman Adrian Mannarino, who poses quirky groundstrokes and creates unequivocally difficult angles, and unfortunately the slippery grass caused bis knee to buckle and retire hurt at the beginning of the fifth set.

Djokovic himself has been forced to battle through his own matches this year, most notably last months Roland Garros final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal is just a warrior, and over the years how many times have fans been gobsmacked by his sheer will and determination to emerge from the grips of defeat.

In keeping with the Wimbledon theme, heres a look back to when the greatest trio of stars in the sport opened the jaws of defeat early in the event before walking out with a victory.

2012 Wimbledon R32 - Roger Federer def. Julien Benneteau 4-6 6-7(3) 6-2 7-6(6) 6-1

The then six-time Wimbledon champion and third seed Federer came up against the wily Frenchman in Julien Benneteau in the third round, the latter winning their previous encounter at the Paris Masters three years prior. 

That trend continued, with the Bourg-En-Bresse native thriving under the roof, holding his nerve to claim the opening two sets and create a tense atmosphere in Federers own house, Centre Court.

The Swiss, not to be denied, would emerge with the third, lifting his game drastically to time his winners to perfection and forcing a fourth set, which would head to a tense tiebreak with proceedings levelled at 6-6, Benneteau two points away from victory and Federer two away from taking it to a decider.

Ultimately, the 16-time major winner was too clinical, raising the bar further and storming home to take the final set for the loss of one game.

He would go on to defeat Xavier Malisse in the fourth round, Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals, Djokovic in the semis and finally Andy Murray for his seventh Wimbledon crown.

The comeback against a devastated Benneteau would prove the catalyst for one of his finest Grand Slam moments.

2015 Wimbledon R16 - Novak Djokovic def. Kevin Anderson 6-7(6) 6-7(6) 6-1 6-4 7-5

The defending champion was in amidst of the most dominant year of his career to date, and was fresh off a shock French Open final defeat to Stan Wawrinka.

The Serbian was unblemished at The Championships, only conceding a maximum of four games in a single set before his fourth round matchup with big hitting South African Kevin Anderson.

However, what would happen next shocked tennis fans to their core, Anderson proving to be too good in the clutch moments, taking the opening two stanzas in tense tiebreaks before Djokovic could finally sink his teeth into the contest, quickly levelling proceedings at two sets apiece.

However, the battle would resume the next day leaving the match on a knifes edge. 

Anderson would gain break points early in the fifth, before Djokovic saved both in quick succession and locking the door shut without facing another.

The nerves were tense following the decisive break at 5-5, with the Serbian facing 0-30 while serving for the match, but ultimately he proved much too strong and prevailed in a match of epic proportions, labelling it as one of the most difficult matches he had played at SW19.

The then eight-time major champion would go on to defend his title and take his ninth Slam, surrendering just one more set for the rest of the tournament to Federer in the final.

2010 Wimbledon R32 - Rafael Nadal def. Philipp Petzschner 6-4 4-6 6-7(5) 6-2 6-3

Following a dominant return to the Roland Garros winnerscircle, Nadal endured a difficult time changing from clay to grass, emerging victorious from two sets to one down against Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round.

Not many were expecting another five set thriller from the Spaniard as he lined up against grass court specialist in German Philipp Petzschner. 

It was normal enough from the outset, with Nadal taking the opener, but the next two sets went the way of the leaping Petzschner, whos game style would prove noteworthy for those analysing how to break down the Mallorca native at SW19 in the future.

However things clicked together for the Spaniard, as he stormed home to reach yet another major fourth round, surviving a pair of scares en route.

Ultimately, it would be his second Wimbledon title, as he overcame Robin Soderling, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych to claim his then eighth major crown.

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