Wimbledon is widely regarded as the greatest Grand Slam of them all, which is why it is always so eagerly anticipated. Starting on Mon 28th June and running until Sunday 11th July, this year’s tournament promises to be one of the hardest ever to call with so many players vying for the crown.
Reigning Champion Novak Djokovic is the favourite in the tennis wagering for the men’s title having already lifted the Australian Open back in January, while Ashleigh Barty is the top tip amongst the women.
Other names to look out for are the new Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, current Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and of course, Serena Williams. While on the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and the U.S Open champion, Dominic Thiem are all contenders.
Before you rush out and put your money on the number one seed, it’s worth looking back at some of the greatest upsets of all time and remind ourselves that the favourites do not always get their own way.
Roger Federer vs Sergiy Stakhovsky – 2013
Arguably the greatest ever Wimbledon upset is this second match between No 1 seed and defending champion Federer vs Stakhovsky, the 116th ranked Ukrainian.
Federer had reached at least the quarter-finals in his last 36 Grand Slams and was a record breaking seven-time Wimbledon champion. Understandably, nobody gave Stakhovsky a chance.
However, the Ukrainian played perhaps his best ever tennis, combining an excellent serve with dominance at the net. Stakhovsky won 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6 and Federer exited a tournament before the third round for the first time since 2003, his earliest Grand Slam exit in 10 years.
In six previous appearances at Wimbledon, including two failed qualifying attempts, Stakhovsky had only ever won one match and that was against Daniel Cox, ranked 273rd in the world. Taking that into consideration, along with Federer’s mastery on grass and legacy as the greatest player ever to grace SW19, this match ranks as one of the biggest shocks ever.
Serena Williams vs Serena Lisicki – 2013
There must have been something in the water in 2013, because it claimed not just the men’s champion but also the women’s too, as world number one and overwhelming favourite for the tournament Serena Williams lost to Germany’s Sabine Lisicki.
Whilst this result was in the round of 16 against the 23rd seed, and not a first-round humiliation against a rank outsider, it was still a huge upset.
Williams, the five-time champion, was on a 34-match winning streak and had won 75 of her last 78 matches. As the defending Wimbledon champion and new French Open champion, she was the undeniable favourite for the title but a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 defeat saw her exit.
The defeat was all the more shocking given how easily Williams had won the first set, while in the final set the American led 3-0 and 4-2 but was unable to close it out
Martina Hingis v Jelena Dokic – 1999
This extraordinary result meant that for only the third time in Wimbledon history, the No 1 seed had lost in the first round.
To put it into perspective, Hingis was the world’s No 1 tennis player and former Wimbledon Champion and at only 18 years of age she was getting better and better.
Her form that year had already seen her thrash Dokic 6-1, 6-2 in the third round of the Australian Open on her way to lifting the title. While a semi final defeat in the French Open cemented her No 1 status.
Although a highly regarded junior player, Jelena Dokic was only 16 and ranked 129th in the world when the pair met in the first round at Wimbledon. It was also her first ever appearance at the championships after she came through qualifying.
It wasn’t just the defeat that makes this result so shocking, but also the manner of it. It was a thrashing. Australian Dokic won 6-2, 6-0, winning the last 11 games and closing out the match in under an hour.
George Bastl vs Pete Sampras – 2002
Seven-time Wimbledon champion and all-round King of the grass court, Pete Sampras, may have lost to Federer in the fourth round the previous year, but the number 6 seed was still a force to be reckoned with.
After a comprehensive victory in the first round, more of the same was expected from Sampras in round two, when he came up against George Bastl, a Swiss player ranked 145th in the world.
Bastl was lucky to even be there having already lost in qualifying, but an injury to another player saw him reinstated as a lucky loser. The Swiss player had not even won a single main tour match in 2002, having previously played mostly Challenger events.
The score was 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4 and reflected the topsy turvy nature of the match, as Sampras came back from two sets down to level it. Incredibly, Bastl managed to take the final set and secure a memorable victory.
While Sampras proved his class by winning the US Open later that year, securing his 14th and final Gran Slam, Bastle never won another game at Wimbledon.
Lucas Rosol vs. Rafael Nadal – 2012
This second-round match was one of the biggest upsets of Nadal’s illustrious career. Between 2006 to 2011, he had reached the Wimbledon final on four occasions, winning the title twice in 2008 and 2010.
Nadal, winner of 11 major titles and seeded No 2 for that year’s championships, was fresh from wining the French Open and on a great run of form. Rosol was ranked No 100 in the world and making his Wimbledon debut, surely there was only one winner.
Five thrilling sets later, Rosol had defeated Nadal 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 and achieved what he himself described, as a “miracle.”
Wimbledon never fails to deliver shocks and surprises and this year will be no different as seeds continue to fall to lesser ranked opponents, but if history tells us anything, it’s that champions and tournament favourites should beware the rank outsider.