Five of the Greatest Tennis Rallies Ever

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In anticipation of the return of top-flight tennis next month, we present five of the greatest rallies of all time.

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal celebrating

With the return of competitive, top-level tennis around the corner, what better way to remind ourselves of why we love the sport than a trip down memory lane to reminisce about some of the greatest rallies to ever grace a court.

For the purposes of this exercise, we have picked our favourite rallies from singles matches only, rather than mixing in doubles, and have given preference to those contests that have taken place at Grand Slams or big tour events due to the high-stakes involved.

Let’s start with a familiar pairing.

1) Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal – Australian Open 2009

Where else could we begin then with arguably the greatest rivalry in the history of men’s tennis; Nadal vs Federer. These two have met no less than 40 times in singles competition with Nadal currently leading the head-to-head 24-16 and hopefully, there is more to come from the FEDAL feud.

There are certainly plenty of examples of great rallies to choose from when it comes to Nadal against Federer but this one from the 2009 Australian Open final stands out. In arguably one of the greatest Grand Slam finals in history, Nadal would eventually win his first hard court major 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 but not before having to produce some exquisite tennis. The point at 40-40 in the fifth game of the fourth set might just be the best Nadal’s ever played against Federer.

2) Agnieszka Radwanska v Elena Dementieva – Indian Wells Masters 2010

Elena Dementieva could have snuck in twice on this list having also played out a particularly enthralling point against Maria Sharapova at the Canadian Masters in 2009. However, it is her remarkable 30-shot exchange with Radwanska a year later that gets the nod, mainly for two brilliant exchanges at the net.

Radwanska would eventually win the point and the quarter-final match but we tip our cap to both ladies.

3) Roger Federer v Lleyton Hewitt – Indian Wells 2005

The torch in men’s tennis had passed from Hewitt to Federer a year earlier but the dogged Australian wasn’t about to throw in the towel as he clashed with the Swiss in the final of Indian Wells.

Federer was approaching the peak of his powers, winning three out of four Grand Slams the year before, but Hewitt made him work for his victory on this occasion with this point being the highlight of the match.

4) Justin Henin v Venus Williams – US Open 2010

A member of the Williams family was always likely to make this list and it is big sister Venus who gets the nod. She and Henin had quite the rivalry in the 2000s with their clash of styles making for some excellent matches, none more so than their quarter-final showdown at the US Open which featured two outstanding rallies.

Henin would go on to win the match, her only victory over Venus on a hard court, and the Flushing Meadows crown.

5) Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal – 2011 US Open

It is only fitting that we let the current men’s No.1 player Djokovic have the final say with one of the greatest points of all-time. 2011 was the year Djokovic finally broke the stranglehold Federer and Nadal had on the Slams, winning three out of four that season.

He needed over four hours and some exceptional shot making to see off Nadal at Flushing Meadows in the men’s final but with points like this from the third set, the Serb was always going to take some beating on this occasion.

Hopefully, we get to see these two lock horns once more at the upcoming US and French Opens as tennis begins to emerge from its enforced hiatus next month.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.
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