Tennis: Nadal's Wimbledon exit added to list of All England epics

Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his fourth round match against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his fourth round match against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.PHOTO: REUTERS

Gilles Muller's fourth-round Wimbledon victory over Rafael Nadal will go down as an instant classic, with the match taking nearly five hours to complete. Coming into the match, Nadal had won the last 28 sets he had played at the Majors, having not dropped a single set since his defeat by Roger Federer in January's Australian Open final.

The Spaniard's smooth-sailing run was halted, with Muller winning the first two sets 6-3, 6-4. Nadal then stormed back to win the next two 6-3, 6-4 as well. The match went all the way to the decisive fifth set (in which there is no tiebreak), and it took more than two hours to complete before finishing 15-13 in Muller's favour.

The Straits Times looks at five other epic matches at The Championships over the years.

1. John Isner v Nicolas Mahut, 2010 first round

It was a first-round clash that would set a new record for the longest match in tennis history. Isner edged out Mahut 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68. There was a total of 183 games played which was 71 more than the second-highest total at Wimbledon, in Pancho Gonzalez's five-set win over Charlie Pasarell in 1969.

In total, the final set between the American and the Frenchman lasted 8hr 10 min, with the new record for the longest match in tennis, standing at 11 hr 5min over the course of three days.

2. Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, 2008 final

With his victory over Federer, Nadal became the first man since Bjorn Borg to triumph at Wimbledon after winning the French Open in the same year - a feat that stood since 1980.

After rain delays, dramatic points and a roller-coaster ride of a tennis match, the Spaniard overcame the Swiss 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 in 4hr 48min, with the match becoming the longest final in Wimbledon history. Nadal's victory also snapped Federer's streak of five Wimbledon titles, and led his rise to world No. 1 for the first time.

3. Andy Murray v Novak Djokovic, 2013 final

Following his disappointment in losing to Federer in the 2012 Wimbledon final, Murray came into the final against Djokovic aiming to be Britain's first men's champion in 77 years. Many thought his defeat the previous year would come back to haunt him, but the Scot responded in emphatic fashion, beating the Serbian in straight sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.

After an exhausting 3hr 10min, Murray finally gave Britain a champion after Fred Perry's 1936 win at the All England Club.

4. Venus Williams v Serena Williams, 2008 final

It was their sixth Grand Slam final meeting. Venus Williams last defeated her sister in a final back in 2001, at the US Open. In 2002 and 2003, Serena came out on top at the finals at the All England Club. Despite an overall 1-4 Grand Slam final record against Serena, Venus managed to defend her title by winning 7-5, 6-4.

With her victory, Venus picked up her fifth Wimbledon title. The match also served as a testament to how the pair kept prestige and championship glory within the same family.

5. Maria Sharapova v Serena Williams, 2004 final

In just 73 minutes, teenager Maria Sharapova became the third-youngest women's champion in the tournament's history at 17 years and 75 days by beating defending champion Williams 6-1, 6-4 with ease.

She became the first Russian to win a Wimbledon singles title and was the lowest-seeded women's winner (No. 13) since Wimbledon began seeding players in 1927.

Sharapova also halted Williams' attempt to become only the third woman in 35 years to win three consecutive Wimbledon titles and ended the Williams family's four-year dominance of the trophy.