If there's one thing Davis Cup, the international men's team competition, is known for it's drama. Will and fortitude are key to emerging victorious, whether it's in the first round or a final.
Here's a look at five of the best matches from the event's past:
1995 Davis Cup final: Pete Sampras (USA) def. Andrei Chesnokov (RUS), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4
Even though he was a three-time French Open quarterfinalist and former Italian Open champion by this point, clay was generally regarded as the one surface that could slow down world No. 1 Pete Sampras. Competing in the first rubber against the veteran Andrei Chesnokov on clay in front of a Moscow crowd would be a tough task for any player. Sampras was up to the task and took a two sets to one lead. Chesnokov took the fourth to send it into a decider. The American, struggling with the extremely slow surface and his health, prevailed in the fifth.
The image of him collapsing after a full body cramp and being helped off the court is one of the most indelible ones in the game’s history. Sampras bounced back and had a hand in all three of the points necessary to clinch the title.
1982 Davis Cup Quarterfinal: John McEnroe (USA) def. Mats Wilander (SWE), 9 -7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6
Before John Isner–Nicolas Mahut became synonymous with "marathon match" and tiebreakers weren’t in Davis Cup, there was John McEnroe’s six-plus hour victory over the new French Open champ Mats Wilander in 1982. McEnroe, who always answered the call for Davis Cup, faced the 17-year-old Swede in the second rubber of the quarterfinal in St. Louis. The American took a 2-0 sets lead before the teenager fought back to win the third set, which took more than two and a half hours. Wilander won the fourth by a more conventional 6-3 score. The fifth appeared destined for a final score of eternity-infinity before McEnroe finally took it 8-6.
1989 Davis Cup Semifinal: Boris Becker (GER) def. Andre Agassi (USA), 6-7, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4
In only their second head-to-head encounter, Agassi and Becker—who would both go on to become two of the greatest players in Davis Cup history—battled tooth and nail. Though the fast indoor surface was perfectly tailored to Becker’s game, it was Agassi who took the first two sets and got himself into a winning position in the third. A win by Agassi would’ve given the U.S. a 2-0 lead after the first singles day.
However, as he’d been doing all year, Becker came up with the goods in the clutch, taking the third set in a tiebreaker. From there, he used the energy of the home crowd to help him through the fourth set. Play was suspended until the next day for the fifth set, but give Becker any type of breathing room and he’s bound to come through, which he did to the tune of 6-4 in the fifth.
1991 Davis Cup Final: Henri Leconte (FRA) def. Sampras (USA), 6-4, 7-5, 6-4
Before his heroics in Russia in ’95, Sampras’ Davis Cup debut didn’t go as planned. In fact, it’s hard to imagine it going any worse. The 20-year-old was brought out to play in the international competition for the first time on the road, in a final. His opponent was one of the premier shot makers of his generation, Henri Leconte.
Only weeks removed from back surgery, Leconte introduced Sampras to the complexities of Davis Cup, defeating him quite handily in straight sets, and giving France a split in singles after the first day. France would go on to win the Cup in front of a home crowd in Lyon.
2002 Davis Cup Final: Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) def. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA), 3-6 2-6 6-3 7-5 6-3
The French team was so close to a Davis Cup title they could taste it—and 20-year-old rising star Mathieu was responsible for that with only one more set to win. The other 20-year-old on the court had other plans, though. Youzhny weathered the storm and won the third set. A see-saw encounter in the fourth went to Youzhny, as well.
Early on in the fifth, the pair traded breaks, but Youzhny won that battle and eventually, the match. It was the first time in finals history a player came from two sets down to clinch a title in a live fifth rubber.