The Greatest Tennis Matches of the 20th Century



“Steve Flink is the right person to take on the task of selecting the best matches of the twentieth century. He knows the game of tennis as well as anybody. He is a good journalist, but he also has a tennis player’s mind.” — – Chris Evert, Former World Champion, Current NBC Tennis Analyst

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century is a masterful tennis epic. Its pages are brimming with insight, hindsight, and as always with Steve Flink, 20/20 vision of the subtleties and complexities of a match. From Budge to Becker and ‘Little Mo’ to the mighty Martinas, he will guide you through the greatest matches you ever saw, or never saw. The game’s finest players and brightest moments will come alive and play again, right before your eyes. This book is a tennis treasure.” — – Mary Carillo, CBS Television Commentator

“The perceptive Steve Flink takes you to courtside for the game’s most illustrious matches and brings them back to life.” — -Bud Collins, Boston Globe and NBC Sports

From the Publisher

The players capture and contain our attention as in no other sporting event. Within the limited space defined by a single tennis court, the infinite possibilities of skill and strategy, power and persistence, make major matches between top flight competitors unique and, at their best, historic.

The final scores do not fully convey the inherent drama when remarkable athletic ability and psychological undercurrents are brought to the tennis court in a confrontation between talented players. The mental calculation, the probing for weakness, and physical stamina, are tested on surfaces that vary, before audiences that may be partisan, and in weather that can confound both predictions and outcomes. The game has evolved from a genteel pastime for the wealthy into an international professional sport with high stakes and fierce composition.

Author and tennis historian Steve Flink has examined the developing nature of the game as it became a popular amateur sport, and then inexorably entered the realm of professional sports with its large spectator facilities, television coverage, and big purses.

Flink has illuminated that evolution by selecting thirty supremely interesting and consequential matches played by both men and women over the course of the twentieth century. He presents them chronologically and provides an in-depth description of each match, including what happened to the adversaries before and after the event.

Flink, in his introduction, tells us how and why he made his choices. In his match narratives, he provides the background and preparation of each combatant. The reader will become part of the audience, and will learn how the outcomes depended upon key points shaped by intuitive intelligence, along with physical strength and agility. His comprehensive accounts produce both depth and excitement.

Excerpt from the book

STEFFI GRAF VS. MONICA SELES, French Open, Final, June 6, 1992

Both the top-seeded Seles and No. 2 Graf overcame considerable hurdles on their way to a fina-round confrontation.  In the semifinals, the immensely popular Sebatini did everything short of beating Seles.  

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She delivered an imposing array of heavy topspin shots off both sides to take Seles out of her rhythm in the rallies.  She attacked at the right moments, volley handsomely when she had the openings. She played skillfully to and for the crowd, who celebrated her every move with boisterous approval.  Sabitini led 4-2 in the final set.  I t tool all of Sele’s resolve to pull her through, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.  In her semi-final Graf got off to a dismal start.  She was being out-maneuvered by Sanchez Vicario.  The German seemed uncomfortable and troubled.  Then, almost abruptly, she found her range and turned it around in a 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over the Spaniard.