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Top 10 upsets and near-upsets

Lukas Rosol celebrates after claiming victory over world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in five sets.
by Simon Cambers
Friday 29 June 2012

In light of Lukas Rosol's sensational upset of Rafael Nadal on Wednesday night, the first time the Spaniard has lost in the second round of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2005, here are 10 other famous Wimbledon upsets...

1999 - Martina Hingis loses first round to Jelena Dokic. If the world No.1 thought she could just breeze through round one, she didn’t count on a 16-year-old Australian who thumped every ball as if it were her last. Her father, Damir, had already begun his hell-raising by then but though Dokic would later become a top-five player, her 6-2, 6-0 victory was the Open Era’s biggest upset. 

2003 - Lleyton Hewitt loses first round to Ivo Karlovic. When the defending champion won the first set in 19 minutes, it looked like all was well for Hewitt but the 6ft 10in Karlovic, playing just his 11th tour match, served him off the court to win in four sets and make Hewitt the first men's defending champion to lose in the first round in the Open Era.

1987 - Boris Becker loses second round to Peter Doohan. Two weeks before Wimbledon, Becker beat Australia’s Doohan at Queen’s Club without really breaking a sweat but a fortnight on, the German’s hopes of winning a third straight title at 19 were blown away by the world No.70. Doohan beat Becker at his own serve-and-volley game, prompting Becker to say: "I lost a tennis match – it was not a war, nobody died out there." 

1994 - Steffi Graf loses first round to Lori McNeil. Having won the title in five of the previous six years, Graf was again a huge favourite but on a wet, windy day, the German was blown out by 30-year-old American McNeil, who went on to make the semi-finals. Graf was the first women’s defending champion in the history of Wimbledon to lose in the first round.

2001 - Martina Hingis loses first round to Virginia Ruano Pascal. You might have thought Hingis would have learnt her lesson from two years before but the world No.1 played an error-strewn match to hand victory to a Spaniard ranked 83rd in the world, who was better known for doubles than singles.

2010 - Roger Federer almost beaten in the first round. Six years before, Alejandro Falla won just three games against Federer in Round 1 at Wimbledon but with a ranking of 60, the Colombian served for the match against the defending champion, six times the winner. It might just have been the biggest upset ever but from two sets to one and 5-4 up, his nerve failed and Federer survived, just.

1967 - Manuel Santana loses first round to Charlie Pasarell. Having once suggested that “grass is for cows”, Santana entered the 1967 event as the defending champion. But Pasarell had come over to Wimbledon early to practise his serve-and-volley game on grass and it paid off as he ousted the holder in four sets. 

1996 - Richard Krajieck beats Pete Sampras in the quarter-finals. In rankings terms, Sampras’s defeat to world No.13 Krajicek may not seem that big a shock but at Wimbledon, where the American reigned supreme, it was of seismic proportions. Much as Kevin Curren did to John McEnroe in 1985, Krajicek just bulldozed through Sampras to dismiss him in straight sets. It was Sampras’s only defeat at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000 and the Dutchman went on to take the title.

1996 - Andre Agassi loses first round to Doug Flach. Former champion Agassi was the No.3 seed and a massive favourite against world No.281 Flach, better known as the younger brother of doubles star Ken. But unbeknown to the outside world, Agassi’s personal life was in turmoil and he was beginning his mid-career slump. Spraying shots way over the baseline, Agassi offered Flach a chance and he took it.

2000 - Vladimir Voltchkov qualifies and reaches the semi-finals. While John McEnroe achieved the same feat in 1977, Voltchkov’s achievement was far more surprising because he was far less talented. Ranked outside the top 200, the qualifier from Belarus stormed through to the last four, where only Pete Sampras ended his run. Now a hitting partner of Maria Sharapova, he put his run down to watching Gladiator a number of times during the tournament.


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