A very open era

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-29 5:03:02

The biggest shocks in modern tennis

Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai celebrates after winning her first-round match against second-seeded Simona Halep of Romania at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 19. Photo: CFP

As much as everyone might argue that modern tennis is lacking the unpredictability of the various other dominant eras of the last century, the fact is that tennis ­retains its ability to shock even the most hardened observer. Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai reached the Australian Open quarterfinals this week and her eventual conqueror Johanna Konta of Britain has also ­offered a hope for those lower down the rung to come good and, who knows, perhaps even win a top ranking tournament?

Here are some of the biggest ­upsets in tennis:

Pete Sampras - Wimbledon - 2002

Pistol Pete was the dominant male of the All England Championships in 2002. From 1993 to 2001, Sampras had won every game but one - his unexpected and still shocking loss to Richard Krajicek in the quarterfinals of 1996. Much harder to fathom was the defeat by "lucky loser" George Bastl, who took the great man to five sets and triumphed in the second round before being trumped by David Nalbandian in the next round.

Steffi Graf - Wimbledon - 1994

The German racquet rock star was in the middle of a Wimbledon ­winning streak that took in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1996 but 1994 was noticeable by its absence. Graf followed her semifinal loss to Mary Pierce in the French Open by being knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon to the ­unseeded Lori McNeil in a straight-set shock.

Serena Williams - US Open - 2015

Serena was two matches from winning the calendar slam but lost to Italy's Roberta Vinci in what still remains the most unrealistic loss in professional sport of the last calendar year. Everyone has off days but Serena was and still is so dominant that it took the watching world a long while to remember that she is human and could be beaten - even by the lower order. "Veni, Vidi, Vinci," indeed. 

Ivan Lendl - French Open - 1989

Michael Chang was just 17 years old when he announced himself to the world at the end of the 1990s by beating both Ivan Lendl and Steffan Edberg on the way to claiming the 1989 French Open title. The teenager from Hoboken, New Jersey smashed the Czech Lendl in a mammoth five-set fourth-round epic that saw the world No.1, and three-time winner at Roland Garros, become victim to the man who would become the first American to win a Grand Slam since 1984. The times, they were truly ­a-changing.

Martina Hingis - Wimbledon - 1999

"Hingis Humiliated" cried the BBC after Jelena Dokic, No.129 in the world at the time, beat the top seed and world No.1 Hingis in the first round of Wimbledon in the last tournament of the millennium. The Australian 16-year-old thrashed the Swiss star 6-2, 6-0 in front of a father that quickly began to dominate headlines. The result was the first time that a top seed had been knocked out at Wimbledon since Graf was ousted by McNeil in 1994.

Ana Ivanovic - US Open - 2008

It appeared that everything had been building up for Ivanovic to truly dominate the women's game in 2008, after all the year had seen her win the French Open and become world No.1. But fate had something else in store and that came in the form of Julie Coin. The French j­ourneywoman beat the newly crowned world No.1 and top seed at Flushing Meadows in the second round before losing to compatriot Amelie Mauresmo in the next round.

Roger Federer - Wimbledon - 2013

Ukranian Sergiy Stakhovsky was almost a decade into his own career as a professional when he met Roger Federer at SW19. The Swiss player had won Wimbledon seven times when they met, most recently the 2012 Championships just a year before and was on a run of reaching 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals. The pair faced off in a ­second-round match where the world No.116 beat the world No.3 in four sets. This was the first time that Stakhovsky had beaten anyone in the top 10, and he was knocked out in the next round.             

Rafael Nadal - Wimbledon - 2012

The Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol turned professional in 2004 but only announced ­himself to the world tennis scene with his defeat of ­Rafael Nadal, the world No.2. The Spaniard was seen off from southwest London in the second round during a game that was delayed due to the center court roof being closed. Rosol's career reached a high point during a ­high-octane tennis ­performance that went to five sets under the ceiling. This was nothing in comparison to the ­Mallorcan's loss at the 2009 French Open when he lost his only game between 2005 and 2014 to Robin Soderling. Quite the run, Rafa. Respect.

Posted in: Feature, Tennis

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