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As the decade winds down, Busted Racquet will celebrate the past 10 years of tennis with various top 10 lists. Today, we at look at the 10 biggest upsets of the 2000s:
10. Tatiana Garbin d. Justine Henin-Hardenne (1), 7-5, 6-4, second round, French Open, 2004
Henin-Hardenne was the defending champ, while Garbin, a clay court specialist, was ranked No. 86 in the world headed into the French.
Sharapova’s title defense lasted just three rounds before she was bounced by the Polish Radwanska.
This was the first major Hewitt played as the No. 1 player in the world and he ended up falling flat in front of his native Australians.
Everyone was looking forward to a Nadal-Federer final. Neither made it that far. Federer was dispatched in the semis by eventual winner Novak Djokovic, while Nadal ran into the buzzsaw that was unseeded upstart Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Now Tsonga is a top 10 player, but at the time he was figured to be no match for Nadal. But the Frenchman won with ease, wowing tennis fans with his crisp movement and relentless backhand.
In retrospect, it was the beginning of the end for Martina Hingis. She had made it to at least the semifinals of 14 of the last Grand Slams, but after taking off the month in between the French and Wimbledon, the No. 1 seed had nothing in her match against doubles specialist Virginia Ruano Pascual. It wasn’t the first first round Wimbledon shock for Hignis. She had a similar early exit in 1999.
5. Jill Crybas d. Serena Williams (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4), third round, Wimbledon, 2005
Serena had played Crybas twice before, dropping just seven games along the way. In a listless Wimbledon showing in ’05, though, the former Florida star came out on top of the decorated champ.
4. Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt (1), 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4, first round, Wimbleon, 2003
The 6-foot-ten Karlovic (who would later became a Busted Racquet famous for his “smack that ace” dance) was 203rd ranked qualifier when he bested the defending champion in 2003, which was just the second time in 126 years that the previous year’s Wimbledon winner would be ousted in his first match.
3. George Bastl d. Pete Sampras (6), 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, second round, Wimbledon, 2002
By the time Bastl took down the legendary Sampras, the seven-time champ was far along with down-slope of his career. That didn’t make the loss any less shocking though. Bastl was a lucky loser (he failed to qualify for Wimbledon and only got in when another player withdrew because of injury) and ranked No. 145 at the time of the win.
2. Roger Federer (15) d. Pete Sampras (1), 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5, fourth round, Wimbledon, 2001
Federer wasn’t Federer when he snapped Pistol Pete’s remarkable 31-match Wimbledon win-streak. Heck, he was only 19. But in his Centre Court debut, Federer out-paced the four-time defending champ, whose decline was no longer in question. But it’s not like Federer came out of nowhere, mind you. He was considered to be the “next big thing” ever since he won the Wimbledon juniors in 1998.
1. Robin Soderling (23) d. Rafael Nadal (1), 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, semifinal, French Open, 2009
It seems less stunning now than it was at the time. Since May Nadal has played sparingly because of his knee injuries and tennis fans are now forced to discuss whether he’ll ever come back to form. But we didn’t know any of that in May. Nadal was coming off wins in three of the last four majors, plus the Olympics. He had seemingly dethroned Roger Federer four months earlier in Melbourne. He was riding a 25-match win streak on clay. He hadn’t dropped a set in the tournament since 2007. The question wasn’t whether he’d lose, it was “who the heck is Robin Soderling?” This was easily the biggest upset of the past 10 years and, perhaps, ever.
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