Counting down the 10 greatest shocks in the history of Wimbledon...
10. Taylor beats Laver
Fourth round, 1970: En-route to his second semi-final appearance at the All England club, home favourite Roger Taylor beat the top seed and defending champion Rod Laver.
9. Bastl beats Sampras
Second round 2002: The seven-time champion Pete Sampras made SW19 his own in the Nineties but was surprised in five sets by George Bastl on what was his last Wimbledon outing.
8. Darcis beats Nadal
First round, 2013: The superstitious Rafa Nadal came into the tournament off another French Open win but lost in the first round of a Slam for the first time – to world No 135 Steve Darcis.
7. Karlovic beats Hewitt
First round, 2003: The imposing world No 203 Ivo Karlovic – all 6ft 10in of him – shocked champion and top seed Lleyton Hewitt, the Australian becoming the first men’s champion to exit so early
6. McNeil ousts Graf
First round, 1994: Steffi Graf became the first defending women’s champion to be beaten in the first round in a Slam, American Lori McNeil progressing in straight sets.
5. Doohan demolishes Becker
Second round, 1987: Two-time champion Boris Becker – still only 19 – was sent packing by unseeded Australian Peter Doohan, dubbed the ‘Becker Wrecker’, in his first singles defeat at the tournament.
4. Capriati downs Navratilova
Quarter-finals, 1991: Precocious American Jennifer Capriati became the youngest Wimbledon semi-finalist, at 15, in overcoming nine-time winner Martina Navratilova – more than double her age.
3. Ivanisevic wins title
Final, 2001: Controversial Croat Goran Ivanisevic, then world No 125, became the first wild card to win a Slam, beating Tim Henman in the semi before outlasting Pat Rafter in the final.
2. Dokic surprises Hingis
First round, 1999: Qualifier Jelena Dokic, 16, lost just two games in dismantling Martina Hingis, the 1997 champion, making her the lowest-ranked winner over a top seed in a Slam.
1. Unknown Becker wins at 17
Final, 1985: The flame-haired West German Boris Becker stormed to unexpected success in just his fifth Slam, beating Kevin Curren to become the youngest – and first unseeded – champion.
Rationale for the top 10...
Every year the British public forgets it’s football obsession, relegates cricket to the back of it’s mind and gorges itself on the goings-on in a small leafy corner of south-west London. Many an balmy summer’s night has been spent marvelling at the majesty of Federer, the power of Nadal, the dexterity of Djokovic or the mental toughness of Murray. But it was not always just these four. The British love affair with the world’s greatest tennis tournament dates back many a year, and choosing the top 10 shocks was a task to both challenge and delight as one tralled through the All England annals.
An unexpected victory, with the victor achieving little before or after, is given more credence, wowing the public more than that of a talent already picked out by those in the know. It is for this reason that the likes of George Bastl beating Nineties legend Pete Sampras and Lori McNeil overcoming Steffi Graf are in the final countdown ahead of a young Roger Federer beating Sampras in 2001 and Maria Sharapova besting Serena in 2004 the final, with both latter victors already pre-determined stars.
The memory of a felling of a giant name becomes more golden over time, and it is the ones that linger longest in the memory that your writer has attempted to include. Graf and Sampras’s defeats toward the end of their careers are in the latter half of the list, along with one suffered by Nadal that it is hoped is not a pre-cursor to a similar descent.
The odd hometown triumph over the odds is ignored, with home support sometimes having an adverse effect on the biggest of names, but Taylor’s victory over Laver keeps its place on merit.
The precociousness of youth keeps Jennifer Capriati and Jelena Dokic toward the top of the order, with only one able to maintain her momentum further thereafter. The fleetingness of Dokic's time in the limelight goes a way to explaining her positioning at No 2 - her subsequent struggles highlighting further the wondrous peak she reached in that comfortable win over the Swiss Miss.
Becker’s fairytale triumph 30 years ago is one for the ages and will take top spot in many an SW19 shock list for years to come. Seventeen years old. SEVENTEEN. Even now, it bears repeating.
Keeping the list to just the Open-era was both easier to quantify and a fairer way to evaluate proceedings, with the game moving on substantially both in style and finances. Some shocks are so engrained in the sporting consciousness that their inclusion was obligatory, it was merely a case of determining their ranking. Extra marks are awarded for dealing with weather stoppages – Goran coming into his own here – and the quality of tennis.Reuse content