Tennis‘ April issue: a look at the best of the Open Era

The upcoming issue of Tennis looks back at the past 40 years of tennis (the Open Era), which began with an inclusion of professionals into its most esteemed events — the Grand Slams — for the first time. This move revolutionized the sport and brought us some amazing memories in upsets, defeats, victories, and feats. Read on to see what the mag deemed worthy of its list. (Do you agree? Tell us!)

The Best Shots: The invicible serve of Peter Sampras. “No player owed as much to a single shot. Even as he aged, his serve kept winning him Wimbledons.” The runners-up are Steffi Graf’s forehand, Chris Evert’s backhand; Jimmy Connors’ return, and Roger Federer’s forehand.

Crucial Matches: Props to Tennis for not going with the safe choice of Billie Jean King d. Bobby Riggs (no offense, BJK). Instead, they turn our attention to the 1990 U.S. Open meeting between Sampras and Ivan Lendl. “An unknown Sampras ended Lendl’s streak of eight U.S. Open finals, and helped usher in the power era,” according to the magazine. Runners up are McEnroe defeating Borg at the 1981 U.S. Open, the 1973 Battle of the Sexes, Rosewall winning over Laver in Dallas, 1972; and Graf’s victory over Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1988.

Biggest Upsets: Navratilova’s 1983 French Open loss to Kathy Horvath, bringing the American’s win-loss record for that dominant year to 83-1. Runners-up are Doohan d. Becker, 1987; L. McNeil d. Graf, 1994; Yzaga d. Sampras, 1994; and Ashe d. Connors, 1975.

Outrageous Moments: The biggest buhskyooze moment is the 1993 stabbing of Monica Seles. The incident derailed a potentially historic career for Seles (btw, why wasn’t her backhand in the top 5?). Runners-up are McEnroe defaulting in Melbourne, 1990; Connors wiping out a ball mark, 1977; the Ilie Nastase uprising at Flushing Meadows, 1979; and Jennifer Capriati’s drug bust mug shot, 1994. (By the time Martina Hingis effed up at Wimbledon this year, drugs were already passe…)

Biggest Rivalries: “The cold war duals of Navratilova vs. Evert defined the term ‘rivalry’ in tennis,” notes the magazine. Their duels ended up 43-37 in Navratilova’s favor. Other rivalries mentioned are Laver vs. Rosewall, Borg vs. McEnroe, Court vs. King, and Sampras vs. Agassi. It’s early yet, but what about Rafa and Roger?

Records: Steffi Graf’s Golden Slam. Runners-up are Chris Evert’s semifinals run from 1971-1987; Navratilova’s 350 titles (that’s 200 more than almost everyone else, man or woman!); Roger Federer’s 10 Grand Slam Finals from Wimbledon 2005 to the U.S. Open in 2007 (a men’s record), and Nadal’s clay-court streak of 81 consecutive wins.

Best Dressed: Serena Williams takes the title in fashion. “From the cat suit to the soccer socks, Serena has made tennis fashion a sport of its own.” Runners-up are Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Maria Sharapova, and Roger Federer.

Biggest Disappointments: The “ornery and super-smooth” Chinito, Marcelo Rios. He never won a major, and he defaulted a match in Los Angeles back in the early aughts, ruining the one chance I had to see him play. Other losers are Iva Majoli, Anna Kournikova; Dick Stockton, Mark Philippoussis.

Feel-Good Victories: The tearful collapse of Jana Novotna in the 1993 Wimbledon final made her 1998 win against Natalie Tauziat even sweeter. Runners-up: Virginia Wade’s win at Wimbledon in 1977, Yannick Noah’s 1983 win at Roland Garros, Jennifer Capriati’s comeback at the 2001 Aussie Open, and Goran Ivanisevic’s historic Monday final in 2001.