When Underdogs Upset Top Seeds – what to Miss about Wimbledon

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Fans and pundits alike have waxed lyrical about what they will miss most about Wimbledon this year. From the fun in the sun and strawberries and cream to the cucumber sandwiches and top-class tennis, the absence of the event in 2020 will challenge the sport and its followers going forward.

What will certainly be missed will be the opportunities for lowly-ranked minnows to upset some of the top seeds. This has happened plenty in the past, offering an air of unpredictability and ‘what if’ to a tournament that can sometimes be predictable. The competition has produced several ‘David beats Goliath’ stories in the past.

When Agassi flopped to Flach

The year was 1996 when Doug Flach beat Andre Agassi in the first round. Agassi never really loved playing on grass, but sucked it up enough to win the Wimbledon title in 1992. He also reached a semi-final in London three years later. A year after that, though, his burgeoning appreciation of the surface came crashing down in defeat to Flach, who was ranked 281st at the time.

“I’m so excited, as excited as anyone could be at this moment. This is the highlight of my career. The biggest moment. Last month I was playing in satellite tournaments just to get my ranking up high enough so I could play in the qualifiers here. In January my ranking was 600,” Flach told the Baltimore Sun.

‘One of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history’

Pete Sampras French Open PA

Six years after that Agassi upset, George Bastl brought another against Pete Sampras in the second round of the 2002 tournament. ‘Pistol Pete’, for all his success at Wimbledon and other tournaments, was poor on the day. Bastl was a late addition to the tournament after an injury to Felix Mantilla. He certainly made it count, lasting four sets to take the fifth and eliminate Sampras.

“That is the worse grass-court match I have seen Pete Sampras play. It is a staggering result, one of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history,” renowned television commentator John Lloyd told the BBC.

Sharapova, Henin flunk to de Brito, Daniilidou respectively

In the women’s game, Michelle Larcher de Brito’s win over Maria Sharapova in the second round of the 2013 event is one for the history books. Sharapova was in the middle of a really good stretch of form before de Brito interrupted that with a straight-sets victory. Serena Williams was pretty much Sharapova’s biggest nemesis of the time, until that underestimated number 131 player stepped in.

Eight years prior, Elini Daniilidou outdid Justine Henin in the first round of the 2005 Championship. Injury had prevented Henin from playing in some warm-up events prior to Wimbledon – and the lack of practice effectively tolled. Henin stretched the defeat to a third set, but the writing was on the wall throughout. “This was the worst draw I could have got,” she lamented to the Daily Telegraph.

‘Shock of the century’

One of the more recent shocks at Wimbledon is Rafael Nadal‘s 2013 defeat to Steve Darcis in the first round. The result was rather inexplicable – and still sends shivers down the spines of tennis purists to this day. Darcis got the job done in straight sets, dumping the number five seed out of contention. Previously, Darcis had won just one Wimbledon match in four attempts – and hadn’t played anyone of a seeded repute. The Daily Telegraph billed this one the “shock of the century.” The victory came at a cost for Darcis, though, who sustained an injury while playing Nadal and had to withdraw from the second round. As quick as his rise started, so it ended.