Currently reading last Saturday’s Mint Lounge Wimbledon special. Was reading this article on the McEnroe-Borg rivalry, and I was taken back to the only McEnroe match that I clearly remember seeing. This was in Wimbledon 1992, which was more like a typical French Open. Upsets left right and centre. Unknown players making it to the latter rounds. Familiar players nowhere to be seen..
Back in the late 80s, when as a small boy, Wimbledon was probably the only Grand Slam I’d watch. Maybe the French Open, too, but I don’t really remember any French Open finals before 1990 (was that when the Ecuadorian Andres Gomez beat Andre Agassi, or was that in 1991? I guess that was 91, since Michael Chang won in 90). And in the 80s, Wimbledon meant just four names to me. Men’s finals had to be Boris Becker versus Stefan Edberg, and the ladies finals between Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.
Coming back to 92, there was no Becker, no Edberg. Even Michael Stich, who had come from nowhere to win the previous title wasn’t anywhere to be seen. There was no Navratilova or Graf in the ladies’ tournament, which I think was won by Conchita Martinez (don’t remember the game, but remember seeing a Sportstar pic of her at the Champions’ Ball). As I told you, the 92 tournament was like a French Open (for pre-Nadalian readers, the French Open is supposed to be a tournament where heavyweights all lose in the early rounds, and each year there’s a new unexpected person who wins. It’s not supposed to be the monopoly it’s turned into of late).
In hindsight, looking back at the 1992 tournament, just looking at the semi-final line-up, I realize what a legendary tournament that was! Some names were then unknown, and were to become legendary later. One other was known, and you had reason to feel sorry for him at that point in time. And there was the lovable veteran.
Goran Ivanisevic beat Pete Sampras
Andre Agassi beat John McEnroe
No one had heard of the first two (Sampras had won the US Open in 1990, but we didn’t watch him, did we? No one watched either the Australian or US Opens those days. The timings were inconvenient), but they would show us their greatness in the coming decade. We all remembered Agassi as the guy who had lost two consecutive French Open finals (to Gomez and then to Jim Courier, having been 2 sets to nil up in the latter). And I don’t need to say much about McEnroe, except that perhaps that was the last I saw of him, save the odd appearance in Davis Cup.
Agassi beat Ivanisevic in the finals. 6-7 6-4 6-4 1-6 6-4. I still remember the scorecard. Thanks to the “checksum fact” that the Deccan Herald had published the following day. That both players had won exactly 25 games each.
Think, and tell me, if you can think of any other major tennis tournament with this kind of a semi-final line-up, spawning eras. Don’t throw up tournaments where the top four seeds were in the semis (that’s so increasingly common nowadays I’m losing interest in tennis).
And reading this issue of Mint Lounge made me long for Sportstar again, for the times before it had become a tabloid. When I would read through pretty much every word of it, and crack sports quizzes.
PS: This post has been written entirely out of what I remember things to have been like, and I haven’t bothered checking the facts. So pliss excuse me, and correct me, if I’m wrong.