Today’s On this Day, in partnership with Rolex, looks back at a timely moment from 2007.
On this day... in 2007, Ana Ivanovic, 19, of Serbia saved three match points to turn around an engrossing quarter-final match against Nicole Vaidisova, 19, from the Czech Republic. The final score stood at 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the head to head between two teenage pin-ups that came to be considered one of the best matches of the year.
Commentators speculated that in this two-hour epic tennis fans had witnessed the battle of two future world No.1 players.
Seven years later it is fair to say that both failed to fulfil that potential. Ivanovic continues to attract the adjective “erratic” like a magnet while Vaidisova – an Australian Open and French Open semi-finalist who was fun to watch – was popularly believed to never be the same again. Failing to convert that trio of match points and surrendering the match with a double fault caused lasting damage.
The 3rd July contest on Centre Court became known as “the match that broke Vaidisova”. She retired in March 2010 aged 20.
How it happened. Vaidisova served to go 5-3 up in the final set and move to within four points of her first Wimbledon semi-final. Her game seemed on song: her serve and blistering forehand alternately keeping Ivanovic out of the points. Everything turned around in the next four games...
Pressure game no.1 Could Ivanovic keep her serve under the pressure? At first it seemed no. With ease Vaidisova carved out three match points, but one by one the Serb displayed astonishing tenacity to save them and the score moved to 5-4.
Pressure game no.2 Could Vaidisova now hold her nerve? No! She cracked. It’s 5-5. "Vaidisova missed those three break points in the previous game and she looked like she was still dwelling on them there,” said BBC analyst Virginia Wade. “This match really is up in the air now."
Pressure game no. 3 Ivanovic held serve. The scoreboard reads 5-6.
Pressure game no.4 The pressure was now undeniably on Vaidisova – and she looked shaky, slipping to 0-30 with two unforced errors but clawing back to 30-30. Ivanovic then found the line with a beautiful backhand to gain her first match point. More nerves, this time from the Serb. She failed to return Vaidisova's serve. Deuce. A cruel net cord falls the wrong side of the net for Vaidisova, then a double fault gives Ivanovic the victory for her first Wimbledon semi-final.
"What a great match that truly went all the way to the line,” concluded Virginia Wade. “Unbelievable from Ivanovic as well, who had to find a way to win in the face of some brilliant tennis early on from Vaidisova."