Wimbledon Flashback: Pancho Gonzales wins epic clash over Charlie Pasarell
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 4280
The second edition of the Open era Wimbledon took place in 1969 and has been remembered for the first-round clash between Pancho Gonzales and Charlie Pasarell. The veteran with a booming serve prevailed 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 after five hours and 20 minutes of thrilling tennis!
Gonzales and Pasarell pushed each other to the limit, and it reminded the most extended match at Majors until 1992! Two great rivals stayed on the court for two days, and those 112 games they played were the record until that famous John Isner vs.
Nicolas Mahut clash. Pancho still had a lot to offer at 41, known as one of the best servers in history and still competing on a very high level. Gonzales reached the fourth round on his Wimbledon debut in 1949, and he could not play at the All England Club until the start of the Open era, missing numerous chances to lift the trophy.
Charlie Pasarell took down the defending champion Manolo Santana in the first round in 1967 and pushed Ken Rosewall to the limits a year later.
Pancho Gonzales beat Pasarell in five sets in 1969.
By the will of the draw, he met the veteran Gonzales in the first round in 1969, and it turned out to be one of the most entertaining encounters ever seen at the All England Club.
The match brought all kinds of drama already in the first set, with Pasarell taking it 24-22 after converting the 12th set point! He took the second set 6-1 before they left the court due to darkness. Frustrated because the organizers did not halt the match earlier, Pancho had a lot of work to do from set number three on the next day.
He stole it 16-14 on the eighth set point when Charlie hit two double faults. The veteran leveled the overall score after taking the fourth set 6-3 when Charlie double faulted again. Nonetheless, the ultimate test was still in front of Gonzales, as he saved a triple match point at 4-5 and 6-7 in the decider to stay in contention!
Pancho played against another at 7-8 and moved ahead with a break in game 19 when Charlie sprayed a volley error. Gonzales served for the victory at 10-9 and brought the victory home after over five hours of a grueling battle, breaking the rival's resistance and taking the last 11 points.
Pancho needed all kinds of efforts to emerge at the top against a player he used to coach. He often relied on his serve alone in the latter stages and found the strength to make that crucial break that carried him over the finish line.
Pancho then reached the fourth round, where Arthur Ashe beat him in four sets. In the chaotic and disorganized Tour between World War II and the start of the Open era, Pancho played at Wimbledon in 1949 and stayed away from it until 1968, missing numerous chances to win crowns after being an ultimate serve & volley player.
His attacking skills were second to none, and he is still the only player who forced the officials to try to change the basic tennis rules to stop his dominance!