Wimbledon: The 4 defending champions to lose first round – as Marketa Vondrousova joins unfortunate club

Marketa Vondrousova during her Wimbledon defeat
Marketa Vondrousova was beaten in the opening round of her Wimbledon title defence.

Marketa Vondrousova’s Wimbledon title defence has come to an early end.

The Czech star was the first unseeded women’s champion in SW19 history a year ago, downing Ons Jabeur in straight sets to win the title.

Many thought the reigning champion could make an impact again at the All England Club, but the sixth seed never looked comfortable in a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to Jéssica Bouzas Maneiro.

Vondrousova’s defeat means that she will fall back outside the top 10 of the WTA Rankings, but also means that she is now part of an unfortunate club.

She is just the fourth person – male or female – to fall in the opening round of their Wimbledon title defence, just the second woman to do so – and the first player to do so in 21 years.

2003 men’s singles: Ivo Karlovic def Lleyton Hewitt

The only men’s champion to be beaten in the Open Era, Hewitt was stunned by Karlovic – later a formidable force on the tour – in round one in 2003.

A huge force in the early 2000s, former world No 1 Hewitt had stormed to the title in 2002, thrashing David Nalbandian in a lopsided final.

And he was highly-fancied to go deep again the following year, still the No 1 and the top seed at the All England Club.

Against Karlovic, he stormed to the opening set, dropping just one game.

But the Croatian rallied to take the second set in a tiebreak and eventually stormed to a shocking 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4 triumph.

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1994 women’s singles: Lori McNeil def Steffi Graf

The only women’s champion to ever lose before Vondrousova. Graf’s loss to McNeil in 1994 remains one of the biggest shocks in tennis history.

Having won three straight titles at Wimbledon heading into the Championships, the German was a significant favourite to make it four in a row.

Alarm bells started ringing for the all-time great when McNeil took the opening set, though Graf was expected to bounce back in prevail.

Eventual semi-finalist McNeil had other ideas, however, and stunned Graf in a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory.

1967 men’s singles: Charlie Pasarell def Manuel Santana

It took nine decades into Wimbledon history for a defending champion to fall at the first hurdle the following year, with Spanish great Santana the unfortunate man to break that duck.

Santana was once quoted as saying “grass is just for cows” but he defied his assessment by winning his fourth major title at the tournament in 1966, beating Dennis Ralston in the final.

But his reign was brought to an abrupt halt the following season against another American in the form of Pasarell.

After falling two sets down, Santana looked to be fighting back, but Pasarell held firm and prevailed 10-8, 6-3, 2-6, 8-6.

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