Biggest Slam Upsets Of 2015: Part 1
Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were among the big names to be upset at Grand Slam level in 2015.
Continuing our Season In Review Series, ATPWorldTour.com revisits the biggest Grand Slam upsets of 2015. In today’s countdown we feature Nos. 5-3:
On one side of the net stood a three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist, a 33-year-old ATP World Tour veteran from Spain who a year earlier rose to a career-high No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. On the other stood a 23-year-old journeyman from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, a 115th-ranked qualifier who was appearing on the lawns of the All England Club for the very first time.
To say the result was unexpected would be putting it mildly.
Basilashvili scored the only break of the opening set, and converted one of four opportunities in the third en route to the upset. Lopez would step it up in the fourth to force a decider, but Basilashvili broke serve twice in the stanza to seal the unlikely outcome. He became only the fourth Georgian man to reach the third round at Wimbledon, and the first since Irakli Labadze in 2006.
Dustin Brown makes no secret of his love of grass-court tennis. But few prognosticators foresaw an upset on the afternoon of July 2 when the dreadlocked German recorded his first win over a seed at a Grand Slam.
Brown’s upset of two-time Wimbledon champ Rafael Nadal was only his third career victory over a Top-10 opponent. His aggressive serve-and-volley tactics paid off. He averaged 118 miles per hour on his serve, struck 13 aces and won 72 of his first-serve points. In charging the net on 85 occasions, he backed his natural game to nullify Nadal.
John McEnroe, himself a three-time champion at Wimbledon, called Brown’s unforeseen triumph one of the best performances he had ever seen by a lower‑ranked player (No. 102 in the Emirates ATP Rankings) on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
“It's a great feeling for him to say that, from the generation that was playing like that, playing serve and volley, coming to the net a lot,” said Brown, who improved to 2-0 vs. Nadal, having also defeated the Spaniard last summer on grass in Halle. “It was great to be able to do that today and do it for that long.”
“He's one of the best players in the sport, and for me, being able to play against him twice on my favorite surface, is probably my luck,” added Brown. “I mean, I wouldn't want to play him on clay or hard court because it would make playing my type of tennis even more difficult. I'm happy I got to play him on that court win or lose. All the kids that play tennis dream about being able to play on that Centre Court. Playing against him there is special.”
Nadal reached five straight Wimbledon finals between 2006 and 2011, winning a pair of titles in 2008 and 2010. But the Spaniard has since failed to reach the quarter-finals, ousted by players ranked between No. 100-150 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He lost in the second round in 2012 (l. to No. 100 Lukas Rosol), the first round in 2013 (l. to No. 135 Steve Darcis) and the fourth round last year (l. to No. 144 Nick Kyrgios).
“At the end of the day, I lost,” lamented Nadal. “[But] don't forget I played five finals here. I don't know how many players have done that.”
No one relishes seeing Kevin Anderson’s name opposite theirs on draw day. Like fellow power servers Ivo Karlovic and John Isner, the South African is the quintessential dangerous floater, someone who can make even the most accomplished returner uncomfortable on the court. Though he came into his Round of 16 matchup at the US Open 5-1 against Anderson, Andy Murray wasn’t taking his opponent lightly when he stepped onto the court on September 8.
Murray came into the tournament in good form, having recently won the ATP Masters 1000 title in Montreal. But Anderson was in top form, too. He had won the US Open Series title in Winston-Salem only days before.
Facing a possible straight-sets dismissal, Murray secured the first mini-break of the third set tie-break when Anderson pulled a forehand long for 2-1, before consolidating for 4-1 with an unreturnable serve out wide. He took the set with an ace on his first opportunity for 7-2.
But heading into a third tie-break of the match, it was Anderson who bolted out of the blocks, cracking a forehand service return winner crosscourt to surge to 3-0. He made it 5-0 with an ace down the T, and when Murray missed wide he had six match points. Anderson took the match on his first chance, ripping a forehand at Murray’s feet, and bringing the capacity Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd to theirs.
Seven times Anderson had fallen in the fourth round at the majors. Now he was through to his first Grand Slam quarter-final, having notched his first upset of a Top-10 player at a major with the four-hour, 18-minute victory over the World No. 3.
The 29-year-old called it “one of the best matches of my career,” adding, “To do it at this stage, at this round, to get through to the quarters the first time in a Grand Slam definitely means a lot to me.”
It was a match that haunted Murray, and one that he would revisit on video.
“I was very disappointed with that match. I wanted to learn as much as I could from it,” he said. “I spoke to my team a lot about that. I don't watch loads of my own matches, but I watched quite a bit of that one. I was very disappointed with what I saw. So I wanted to learn from that. I did, I think, quite quickly.”
Coming Next: The 2 Biggest Grand Slam Upsets of 2015