A Match Made in Heaven

From The Washington Post:

Match Exhibit A: the match that took place July 20, 1937, on Wimbledon's Centre Court. The occasion was the Davis Cup Interzone Final between the United States and Germany. On one side of the net was Don Budge, a lanky redhead from Oakland, Calif., with a bludgeoning serve and a fabled backhand. On the other side, Baron Gottfried von Cramm, “the very embodiment of style, grace, and sportsmanship,” with a counterpunching game that was likened to chamber music. Cramm took the first two sets; Budge swept the next two; and as the combatants played on into the London twilight, the crowd of 14,000 realized that something extraordinary was happening. “The two white figures began to set the rhythms of something that looked more like ballet than a game where you hit a ball,” wrote radio journalist Alistair Cooke. “People stopped asking other people to sit down. The umpire gave up stopping the game to beg for silence during rallies.”

Each player hit twice as many winners as errors — an ungodly percentage — and the match was concluded by a spectacular running passing shot that the winning player, stumbling as he hit it, never saw land. Whereupon “a British crowd forgot its nature,” Cooke reported. “It stood on benches” and made the “deep kind of roar” that “does not belong on any tennis court.” The U.S. team captain later said, “No man, living or dead, could have beaten either man that day.” Indeed, the question of who ultimately prevailed — I won't spoil it by telling you here — is almost irrelevant.

More here.