Nadal included in Wimbledon’s 5 most shocking first-round upsets
As the Great British public flock to SW19 armed with picnics and sunscreen, the majority of the field prepare for their first-round matches just hoping not to make a surprise exit.
Avoiding humiliation at the first hurdle is the biggest prize on offer during the tournament’s first week and is a carrot that some of the game’s greats have failed to grasp over the years.
Here are five of the more astonishing first-round Wimbledon upsets:
Ivo Karlovic beat Lleyton Hewitt, 2003
The Australian became the first men’s defending champion to be knocked out in the first round in the Open Era when he lost to the gargantuan Croatian.
Karlovic had won just two matches on the main tour before facing Hewitt on the famous grass courts and was ranked 203rd in the world to Hewitt’s 2nd.
Rallying back from a 19-minute first set, Karlovic served 18 aces to pull off the 1-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 triumph. He is 1/5 to beat Elias Ymer in his opening encounter this year.
Jelena Dokic beat Martina Hingis, 1999
Dokic is a well-known name in the tennis world nowadays, but as a 16-year-old back in ’99 few expected her to progress against the world number one.
The pair had met at the Australian Open earlier in the year, where Hingis predictably won, but it was a completely different story in London, as Dokic completed a crushing 6-2, 6-0 win.
Lori McNeil beat Steffi Graf, 1994
Graf had won five of the previous six Wimbledon titles prior to 1994’s edition, but was to suffer an embarrassing end to her 21-game winning streak at the tournament against the American.
Serve-and-volleying her way to a 7-5, 7-6 success, McNeil went on to reach the semi-finals after disposing of the world number one, losing to eventual winner Conchita Martinez.
Doug Flach beat Andre Agassi, 1996
Flach would have dreamt of drawing Agassi after qualifying for the 1996 tournament as the world’s 281st best player, but perhaps wouldn’t have allowed himself to imagine beating him.
But that’s exactly what happened as the Georgia native won his first main tour match for more than two years. Unsurprisingly, he called the victory the best moment of his career during his post-match press conference.
Steve Darcis beat Rafael Nadal, 2013
Nadal had played nine tournaments in 2013 prior to Wimbledon, reaching the final of all of them and winning seven.
Darcis, on the other hand, had only won one match at the Grand Slam in his lifetime and was, as it turned out, playing with an injured shoulder.
The problem, suffered during the Nadal win, was severe enough to force him into a withdrawal before his second-round outing.
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