Major upsets are part of sport and rooting for the underdog is an inherent trait that many fans harbour. Tennis is not exempt from underdogs prevailing and Grand Slams are particularly difficult to predict.
Over the past two decades, tennis fans have witnessed extraordinary supremacy on the court from a handful of tennis catalysts. Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams to name a few, who all are decorated in numerous accolades.
Suggested Image: Dustin Brown Beating Rafael Nadal
Punters who correctly predict when a tournament favourite crashes out early or spots a dark horse who wins it all receive massive pay-outs on fixed odds betting. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the biggest tennis upsets and unlikely victors in recent history.
Denis Istomin Defeats Novak Djokovic: Australian Open, 2017 (2nd Round)
Istomin, who at the time was ranked 117th in the world, received a wildcard entry to the 2017 Australian Open. Who does he draw in the second round? No other than number-one seeded Novak Djokovic.
The Uzbek national started in horrendous fashion, surrendering the first two sets to the Serbian champion. His grit and determination paid off as he came back to win all five sets.
Djokovic conceded his earliest Australian Open loss since he was 19-years-old. Istomin, on the other hand, became the first player ranked outside the top 100 to defeat the Serb in a Grand Slam tournament.
Sergiy Stakhovsky Defeats Roger Federer: Wimbledon, 2013 (2nd Round)
Sergiy Stakhovsky secured his first career top-10 win by toppling defending champion Roger Federer at Wimbledon. At the time, SW19 was Federer’s tennis stomping ground, exercising his supremacy over the Grand Slam.
Suggested Image: Sergiy Stakhovsky
Stakhovsky’s second-round triumph denied the Swiss Maestro a chance at a record-eighth Wimbledon title, a feat he would go on to accomplish in 2017. The narrow four-set victory dealt Federer his earliest Grand Slam defeat since the 2003 French Open.
The Ukrainian was ranked 116th at the time, while Federer was world number three and continued to dominate every major tennis competition he was part of.
Dustin Brown Defeats Rafael Nadal: Wimbledon, 2015 (2nd Round)
For all the numerous accolades Nadal as captured, the Spaniard had always found Wimbledon a harder Grand Slam to perform in. The King of Clay was stunned by Dustin Brown in the second round.
Brown discovered another gear when going toe-to-toe with Nadal, playing a plethora of drop shops and some truly jaw-dropping tennis. The German, who was ranked 102nd at the time, had only reached the third round of a Grand Slam.
Brown turned on the style to dispatch the Spanish champion in four sets. Brown even wrapped up the match with an ace to hammer the final nail into Nadal’s coffin. After brushing aside Nadal, his fairy tale Wimbledon journey was ended by Viktor Troiki.
Virginie Razzano Defeats Serena Willams: French Open, 2012 (1st Round)
Virginie Razzano accomplished a unique feat when she bested the colossal Serena Williams at the 2012 French. Ranked 111th at the time, Razzano remains the only player ever to knock out Serena Williams in the first round of a Grand Slam.
Razzano shocked the tennis world with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 victory over the tennis titan. Williams was expected to dispatch Razzano with little effort setting a blockbuster quarter-final up against Sharapova, but the French player had other ideas.
“There is no excuse,” admitted Williams after the match. “I made so many errors today. I just didn’t play at all.”
Robin Soderling Defeats Rafael Nadal: French Open, 2009 (4th Round)
Rafael Nadal has without a doubt earned his nickname as “The King of Clay”. The Spaniard’s accomplishments on the red dirt have not been emulated and may never be repeated.
Nadal’s 13 French Titles is an unbelievable achievement, the French Open is the Spaniard’s stomping ground. Robin Soderling was the man to ruin the French supremacy party inflicting Nadal with his first loss at the French Open in 2009.
Nadal was riding a 31-match winning streak as the four-time defending champion dating back to his 2005 debut at Roland Garros. Nadal also was the world number one so this upset had more gravity to it than the usual dethroning of a favourite.
Suggested Image: Robin Soderling
The Swede dismantled Nadal in four sets (6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6) in the fourth round to shock the tennis public and remind Nadal that he is not untouchable on clay. Soderling’s victory is considered one of the biggest tennis upsets in the history of the sport.
Ranked 29th at the time and seeded 23rd, he carried on his winning ways besting his next two opponents to reach his first Grand Slam final. Despite losing to Roger Federer, Soderling’s ATP ranking skyrocket to 12th following his next major tournament.
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