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Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Updated: July 15, 2:00 PM ET
Dramatic Budge lifts U.S. to Wimbledon title

By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com

July 20, 1937

Earlier in the month, American Don Budge had an easy time in vanquishing Germany's Baron von Cramm in straight sets in the Wimbledon final. But today, on the same court, in the fifth and deciding match of the Davis Cup Interzone finals, the contest is much more competitive. When it's over, some are considering it the most dramatic match ever played.

Von Cramm, who received a phone call from Adolph Hitler before taking the court, wins the first two sets, 8-6 and 7-5. But Budge rallies, becoming more aggressive, and takes the next two sets, 6-4 and 6-2.

Playing the match of his life, von Cramm goes in front, 4-1, in the final set. Budge rallies again, breaking back to tie the match at 4-4. Each player holds serve until the 13th game, when Budge breaks von Cramm at love. The German, though, doesn't yield easily, saving four match points in the 14h game before Budge finally prevails, 8-6, to win the match.

In the stands, Germany's coach, Bill Tilden, is distraught over von Cramm's defeat. Tilden "all but cried when the fair-haired lad was beaten," the Associated Press reports.

The next week, the United States will win the Davis Cup for the first time since 1926, when Tilden played for the U.S., by beating England in the final.