The Greatest 10 Upsets in Tennis History

With the coronavirus pandemic refusing to relinquish its grip on the world, the tennis circuit has come to a grinding halt. After Wimbledon was inevitably axed at the end of March, and all other Grand Slams following suit, getting a tennis fix has been an issue. The ATP seems to be mitigating the virus but a glass of Pimm’s and a jam-packed Centre Court seems a world away. Let’s look back at the 10 greatest upsets in tennis history.

10. Peter Doohan vs Boris Becker, Wimbledon 1987

This was one of the big upsets of the 1980s, and in Wimbledon history. Becker was exercising his usual supremacy on the tennis circuit and had dominated Wimbledon, featuring in all but one final between 1985 to 1991. The only time the German had failed to reach a final in those six years was because of his defeat to Doohan. The Australian, ranked No70, played some truly tantalising tennis, winning 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, and thoroughly deserved this shocking win.

9. George Bastl vs Pete Sampras, Wimbledon 2002

If you know how to bet on tennis, then you’d know Pete Sampras was the overwhelming favourite in his match against George Bastl at Wimbledon. Although Sampras was not at his best in the final year of his career on the professional tour, it still was a shock to see the seven-time champion bested by a player ranked 145th on the tennis circuit.

Bastl made a commanding start to the match, claiming the opening two sets before Sampras levelled the game up. It looked like Sampras had swerved the upset, but Bastl stood strong and won the final set and game 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4 to send Sampras packing.

8. Sergiy Stakhovsky vs Rodger Federer, Wimbledon 2013

The former No.1 was coming into this contest a seven-time Wimbledon champion and noticeably the overwhelming favourite. Sergiy Stakhovsky, 116th seeded at the time, employed persistent tactics against the Swiss refusing to buckle. The Ukrainian raised his game to greater heights in the second set forcing Federer to make mistakes, eventually winning 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.

7: Roberta Vinci vs Serena Williams, US Open 2015

Roberta Vinci shocked the tennis world after beating Serena Williams at the US Open. Just two matches shy of the Grand Slam, Serena was plying her trade in front of an adoring, expectant Arthur Ashe crowd. It seemed that Vinci didn’t receive the script, and after surrendering the first set the impressive Italian battled past the World No.1 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, shattering Serena’s hopes of getting another piece of silverware under her belt.

6: Nick Kyrigos vs Rafa Nadal, Wimbledon 2014

Kyrigos was a hungry, ambitious, naturally talented tennis player in 2014, not the angry, ill-tempered renegade we see on the court today. When Nick went toe-to-toe against Rafa Nadal on Centre Court, the Spaniard had no idea the young Australian thwart his Wimbledon aspirations. The 18-year-old wildcard came out swinging and played his audacious, attacking tennis including an electric through the legs trick shot. Kyrigos ended up putting Rafa to the sword by 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3.

5. Coco Gauff vs Venus Williams, Wimbledon 2019

On a sleepy day in June, Gauff was at home in Delray Beach, Florida, when she learned her qualifying wildcard had been accepted for Wimbledon. Gauff entered the court ready to slug it out against fellow hero Venus Williams. When walking on to the court the 15-year-old had her head down but she left with her chin to the sky and tears in her eyes as she secured a 6-4 6-4 win against a tennis great.

4. Richard Krajicek vs Pete Sampras, Wimbledon 1996

Wimbledon was Pete Sampras’ battleground, the American’s tennis flourished in SW19. Sampras had a hold over the Grand Slam in the nineties, losing just once between 1993 and 2000. One of those losses was to big-serving Richard Krajicek. As a match the game was far from exciting, but the sheer shock of Krajicek dispatching Sampras on his hollow turf was the spectacle. The Dutchman won 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to stun the tennis world.

3. John Millman vs Roger Federer 2018

For two weeks in early September, New York became a sauna. Oppressive heat and humidity descended on the Big Apple and the US Open was a victim to the forces of mother nature. Millman and Federer had to channel their conditioning ability to survive the elements. This made Millman’s win over the Swiss maestro even more impressive. Roger Federer had never lost to a player outside the Top 50, but this was Millman’s day to end that trait. The Aussie racquet veteran put arguably the greatest man to ever play the game to the sword, beating him 3-6, 7-5 7-6(7), 7-6 (3).

2. Lori McNeil vs Steffi Graf, Wimbledon 1994

Steffi Graf was notorious for not losing in the first round of a tournament but 1994 was an anomaly to her game. Graf walked out onto Centre Court as defending champion at Wimbledon 1994, and most people thought this was just another day at the office for her. The match proved to be anything but. McNeil wasted no time and went on the offensive, making the most of an uncharacteristically passive Graf to win 7-5, 7-6 (5).

1. Robin Soderling vs Rafa Nadal, French Open 2009

Rafa Nadal is the King of Clay and he has proven it in the last decade and a half. The Spaniard exercised such supremacy on clay that even Federer or Djokovic beating him would have been classed as an upset. But Nadal did not get bested by either of them, he lost 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 to unheralded No.23 seed Robin Soderling. The Swede brushed aside the Spaniard’s 31-game win streak at Rolland Garros, going on a run to his first Grand Slam eventually succumbing defeat to Rodger Federer.