Sportstar's all-time classics: Bindra's historic gold to Federer's epic Wimbledon win

As the coronavirus continues to affect sporting events across the globe, we take a look at five classic matches from the past that are worth revisiting.

Abhinav Bindra poses with his gold medal after winning the Men's 10m Air Rifle final at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The coronavirus pandemic has forced cancellations and postponements of sporting events across the world.

If the lack of sporting action has left a void in your day, here's something to satiate that hunger — a pick of five classic matches from the years gone by that you should revisit.

Roger Federer vs Andy Roddick - 2009 Wimbledon

There is no doubt that the 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will go down as one of the greatest championship matches ever to be played.

But the 2009 Wimbledon final, the longest in terms of the number of games played, made for some engaging viewing and left even die-hard Roger Federer fans feeling a little sorry for the vanquished Andy Roddick.

For over four hours, Andy Roddick played the match of his life, keeping his open admiration for Federer aside to push the Swiss to the edge with great service games - Federer was nowhere close to breaking the American’s serve.

In the fifth and final set, at 8-8, Roddick was one point away from breaking Federer’s serve. He could have finally held aloft that elusive trophy beating the player he unabashedly kept on a pedestal. But Federer did to Roddick what Nadal has been doing to Federer ever since - break his opponent’s resolve with sheer perseverance.

 

The final result - 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14 gave Federer his sixth Wimbledon title and put paid to Roddick’s Wimbledon aspiration for the third and final time, Federer forever remaining the final hurdle that Roddick couldn’t cross.

"Sorry, Pete, I tried to hold him," Roddick would later apologise to Pete Sampras at the gallery after he failed to stop Federer from overtaking Pete Sampras with his 15th Grand Slam title.

His post-match comments tugged at the heart - it was difficult to not shed a tear for the American who gave it his all and still fell short. 

Usain Bolt 2009 World Championships

Who can forget Bolt’s World record sprint at the 2009 World Championships in Rome or his Olympic treble in both 100m and 200m -- in Beijing, London and Rio? The 100m sprint has always taken the pride of a place in an Olympic schedule, but no man has ever dominated the track and pushed people into disbelief and wonderment like Usain Bolt with his nature-defying sprints.

A rewatch of all his medal-winning run would be the perfect energy boost and motivation to chug along with our mundane chores. While you are at it, don’t forget to look at the video of his semifinal run at the Rio Olympics.

 

Watch it in slow-motion if you please and then halt to look at that iconic photo of him flashing his wide-toothed smile to the photographers in the middle of the run!

Don’t stop at that too. Read those 1000-worded articles dissecting his 10-second run which suggests how he defied the laws of physics to achieve the feat and marvel at the wonder that is Usain Bolt.

P.V. Sindhu vs Nozomi Okuhara - 73-shot rally - 2017 BWF World Championships final

P.V. Sindhu is probably the only Indian athlete who can get people to watch her games while a cricket match featuring India is running parallelly in another channel. If that match is against Nozomi Okuhara, the choice becomes all that more difficult.

The most thrilling of all their encounters has to be that 2017 BWF World Championships final. In a way, that kickstarted the rivalry though the two have played each other a handful number of times before this encounter. The battle lasted 110 minutes, the longest world championship match, with Okuhara clinching the crown after a 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 win.

 

The most defining moment of the match was the 73-shot rally which saw both the players give it all they had in their tank. They retrieved shots from every corner and from all possible angles, they smashed where they could and returned as if their life depended on it.

 It was draining and exhausting to witness the battle as a spectator, what would it have been like for the players? That is one match worth revisiting.

India vs Australia, 2003 Adelaide Test

India, then a poor traveller, hadn’t won a Test match in Australia for over 20 years. On 16 December 2003, India broke that dry spell with a win that didn’t look like a possibility for the first three days of the second Test in Adelaide.

Australia had a bombastic start, registering 556 in its first innings with Ricky Ponting scoring 242. Even when Rahul Dravid and V.V.S Laxman, the architects of India’s famous 2001 win ( a classic) against Australia in Kolkata, stitched together a 303-run partnership to help India finish its first innings at 523, a draw looked the most likely result.

 

But an unexpected magnificent spell from Ajit Agarkar - 6-41 helped India bowl out Australia for 196 runs for a 233-run victory target. Rahul Dravid, who laboured hard for his 233 runs in the first innings, once again held fort with an unbeaten 72 to give India a memorable six-wicket win in Adelaide.

The wall stood tall and India began believing in itself. The mental barrier was breached as India retained the Border Gavaskar trophy after finishing the Test series 1-1.

2008 Olympics - Abhinav Bindra's gold and Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals

Abhinav Bindra ended India’s century-long wait for a first individual Olympic gold when he pipped Henri Hakkinen in the final with a near-perfect 10.8 in his final shot in the 10m air rifle event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After the final shot that confirmed the gold, Abhinav Bindra lifted his hand up in acknowledgement with a deadpan face.

He probably did sport the faintest of smiles at achieving his target. However, Indians elsewhere, including me, were jumping about in joy and going gung-ho over his remarkable feat. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about that moment when India’s national anthem was played as Bindra stood on the podium to collect that gold.

 

No number of repeat watches will dim that excitement. Unfortunately, that remains India’s only individual Olympic gold medal.

The legend of Michael Phelps

Even as India was celebrating its lone Olympics gold, an American swimmer went about collecting that shiny medal with every splash he took in the pool. Michael Phelps broke Mark Spitz’s record with his eighth gold medal in a single edition of the Olympics in Beijing.

He would go on to collect another 10 gold medals and two silver in the subsequent editions to end his career as the most decorated Olympian with 28 medals.

Waking up every morning to see Michael Phelps dominating the pool to take the gold for a week was an experience in itself. Now would be a good time to have a relook at all his Olympic exploits.

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