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WIMBLEDON 2018 : Top 10 Shocks, Upsets And Surprises In The Modern Era

Updated on June 6, 2018

The Wimbledon Tennis Championships



Tennis is an extreme, individual sport both physically and mentally. It takes a special athlete to become a top ranked player on the world stage.

Games can last for hours and it is quite unusual in the way it is scored. Points are gained or lost with every piece of action and games can swing one way and then the other, during the course of a match.

Tennis players tend to be consistent, in that good players are, injury aside, always good. One of the dreams of any tennis player, man or woman, is to be a Wimbledon champion.

It is not unusual for a defending Wimbledon champion to return the following year and try to repeat his or her feat, such is the consistency of the top ranked tennis players. This, unfortunately, is not always the case and here are the top 10 shocks, upsets, and surprises in the last 20 years of this grand slam competition.

It Hurts To Lose


1994 Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf went into Wimbledon '94 as red hot favourite. She had reached the quarter-finals of every major since 1985 and had won Wimbledon Ladies Singles 5 times out of the last 6 years. Her first round match was against Lori McNeil, an experienced 30 year old American who had beaten Graf on their previous encounter. During the game Steffi just did not play her usual aggressive game and lost in 2 sets.

"It doesn't hurt to lose my crown, it hurts to lose," said Graf

It Was A Great Day


1994 Michael Stich

Steffi Grafs German compatriate, Michael Stich was Wimbledon champion in 1991 and ranked number 2 in the world entering Wimbledon '94. He was grouchy about being assigned court number 2 for his first round match against 120th ranked Bryan Shelton from the USA.

Court number 2 was notorious for being a graveyard for former champions, Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe and John McEnroe all having been eliminated there. So it proved with Michael Stich, losing in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Stich left the court to resounding boos he felt he did not deserve.

"You can't expect a player when he loses in three sets, having high expectations, to smile and say, 'Thank you very much, it was a great day,' " Stich fumed afterward.

It Didn't Quite Happen


1996 Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi was ranked number 3 in the world when he arrived for Wimbledon '96. He had won the men's final in 1992, but turned up in 1996 with his personal life in turmoil. This probably played a part in his first round defeat by Doug Flach, ranked 281 in the world.

Agassi got over it soon enough. He went on to win gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, as well the US Open, the French Open and won the Australian Open 3 times.

"I was definitely off my game," said Agassi. "I just couldn't put enough shots together. You have to play well at the right times -- or at least hit a decent enough shot to win the point at the right time. But it didn't quite happen."

Agasii 1996 Atlanta Olympics

I'm Not That Disappointed


1999 Martina Hingis

World ranked 129, Jelena Dokic (pronounced Dah-Kick) a 16 year old Australian caused one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledons 113 year history when eliminating Martina Hingis in straight sets. It was only the third time a top seeded player had been dumped out of the tournament in the first round. The other two being Margaret Smith in 1962 and Steffi Graf in 1994.

"It happens to everybody sometimes," she said. "I'm not that disappointed."

A Big Failure


2001 Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis went into Wimbledon 2001 as top seed and took a lot of emotional baggage with her. A turbulent love life, rifts with her mother and a two and a half year Grand Slam wilderness, maybe, explained her opening round exit at the hands of Spaniard, Virginia Ruano Pascal. After the game Martina blamed a previously undisclosed tendinitis in her lower back.

"I don't think it's such a big failure," Hingis said. "I know if I'm 100 percent I can go out there and beat anybody."

Lleyton Hewitt


Didn't Take My Chances


2003 Lleyton Hewitt

In 1966 Manual Santana became men's single Wimbledon champion. The following year he lost in the first round to Charlie Pasarell. That was in the days before professionals were allowed to enter.

Jump forward to Wimbledon 2003. Lleyton Hewitt, the previous years men's champion came to the competition as red hot favourite. His first round match was against a 203 ranked Croatian, Ivo Karlovic. Hewitt treated Karlovic as you would expect; like the rank outsider that he was. Hewitt won the first set at a canter and was on his way to an easy win. Lleyton Hewitt lost the next 3 sets and never won another Grand Slam title after that. Having said that, he did go on to win earnings in excess of $20 million as a player, reaching the US Open and the Australian Open finals.

"I felt like I was hitting the ball well but I just didn't take my chances." said a dejected Hewitt

One Call Makes A Match


2004 Venus Williams

Venus Williams and her sister Serena dominated the womens tennis scene all through the beginning of the 21st century. It was almost impossible to envisage anyone beating them. Obviously Croatian, Karolina Sprem hadn't read the script. Venus crashed out of the tournament to Karolina 7-6, 7-6, although it was overshadowed by controversy when Sprem was awarded a point in the tie-break.

"I don't think one call makes a match," said Venus

I'm Very Disappointed


2012 Rafael Nadal

It is not often the Spanish whizzkid and 11 times Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal is outclassed, but in his 2nd round clash he lost a spectacular match to Czeck Republic, 100th ranked Lukas Rosol.

"It's not a tragedy." said Rafa "I'm very, very disappointed."

I Don't Want To Use Excuses


2013 Rafael Nadal

Both the two men's single favourites were eliminated this year. First went Nadal in the opening round to Belgian, Steve Darcis who played the game of his life. Nadal wasn't at his best without a doubt; he is not as happy on grass as he is on clay.

"All I want to do is congratulate Steve Darcis, he played a fantastic match. Talking about my knee is an excuse and I don't want to use excuses."

More Years To Come


2013 Roger Federer

Second to be eliminated by a rank outsider this year was Roger Federer, the Swiss combine harvester. He was knocked out in the second round by Ukrainian, Sergiy Stakhovsky ranked 116.

It was the earliest Federer had been dumped from Wimbledon since 2002. He had reached the quarter-finals in his previous 36 tournaments.

"I still have plans to play for many more years to come." said Federer talking about his future plans.

2016 Novak Djokovik

Beaten in the third round to American Sam Querrey. It's up there, in shock value, with the Bangladeshi defeat of Australia at cricket and Mike Tyson's loss to Buster Douglas in boxing. That's the game. Nothing is guaranteed.

"I'm not happy to lose a match, that's for sure, but I'm going to move on from this hopefully as a stronger player," said Djokovic.


It is ironic that none of these giant killers have ever gone on to reach the heights of the players they defeated. It does prove that all these players are human and anyone can have an off-day. It also displays the great spectacle that is Wimbledon and it's what makes this magnificent tournament the one that all tennis players want to win.


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      4 years ago

      Great hub - my mom is usually 'destroyed' whenever Nadal gets beaten! Utter shock! I thought this year's final a Wimbledon was another Federer was beaten - unreal...thriller of a match though. Would like to read more hubs like this...have a great day! AK


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