Rafael Nadal Wimbledon

4 most shocking early upsets in Grand Slam tennis since 2010

Despite the dominance of the Big Three at Grand Slam tennis tournaments in the last decade and beyond, they have also suffered some surprise early round losses to hand the initiative to their rivals.

Due to the sheer dominance of 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who won nine of the 11 titles up for grabs in Paris, the shock defeats have tended to occur on the other surfaces and predominantly on the grass at Wimbledon.

Tennishead looks at the four biggest upsets since 2010.

Lukas Rosol def. Rafael Nadal, 2012 Wimbledon (2nd Round) 6-7(11) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4

On July 28 2012, Nadal stepped out on to Centre Court for what was expected to be a comprehensive second round win over Lukas Rosol.

Little did the Wimbledon crowd know, but this would mark one of the most startling exits at Wimbledon in recent years, sending shockwaves through the world of sport.

Ranked World No 100, Rosol played the match of his life to pull off the upset, defeating the former Wimbledon champion in a five set marathon.

With nothing to split the pair in the first set, Nadal managed to win the tie break, giving the World No 2 the first set.

But much to the surprise of tennis fans around the globe, Rosol dominated the next two sets, breaking Nadal’s serve while hanging onto his own with some powerful serving.

Nadal fought back in the fourth to level, which paved the way for a final set. Despite the even scoreline, a Nadal win and progression to the third round was never in doubt.

However, a 45 minute break to close the roof certainly disrupted the Spaniard’s momentum, with the Czech qualifier breaking Nadal immediately before clinching the final set in just 24 minutes.

Steve Darcis def. Rafael Nadal, 2013 Wimbledon (1st Round) 7-6(4) 7-6(8) 6-4

Steve Darcis, who only ever made it as far as the third round in Grand Slam singles events, caused one of the biggest upsets in tennis history as he became the first player to oust Rafael Nadal in the first round of a Major tournament.

The Spaniard, who two weeks prior was celebrating his return from a knee injury with a 12th title at the French Open, was defeated in straight-sets by the World No 135.

The Belgian was effective behind his serve, winning two tie-breaks before signs of the niggling knee injury forced Nadal to play quicker points in the decider, which in turn contributed to a vast amount of unforced errors.

After the defeat to Lukas Rosol in the previous year, the Court 1 crowd were in amazement as Nadal was defeated yet again by a relative unknown in the tennis world.

Sergiy Stakhovsky def. Roger Federer, 2013 Wimbledon (2nd Round) 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-5 7-6(5)

Sergiy Stakhovsky secured the first top-10 win of his career by defeating defending champion Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013.

Stakhovsky’s second-round triumph denied Federer a chance at a record-eighth Wimbledon title – a feat the Swiss went on to accomplish in 2017.

The battle of the stylish one-handed backhands was won by the Ukrainian, who defeated Federer in four-sets and ended his remarkable run of reaching at least the quarter-final stages in 36 consecutive Majors.

It was also Federer’s earliest Grand Slam defeat since the 2003 French Open, ten years prior.

Despite a valiant effort from the World No 116 in the first set, Federer took it on a tie-break and put one Swiss step into the third round.

However, much to the surprise of Federer and the Centre Court crowd, Stakhovsky was not done yet.

The Ukrainian battled back brilliantly, continuing his aggressive play and dominance behind his first serve to win just an hour and a half later.

After clinching the fourth set breaker, Stakhovsky fell back on the hallowed turf as the Centre Court rose to applaud one of the biggest upsets at Wimbledon.

Denis Istomin def. Novak Djokovic, 2017 Australian Open (2nd Round) 7–6(8), 5–7, 2–6, 7–6(5), 6–4

World No 117 Denis Istomin received a wildcard entry into the 2017 Australian Open and quickly found defending champion Novak Djokovic, winner of five of the last six Australian Open titles, at the other side of the net.

Of all the early round upsets in Grand Slams of the last decade, this was arguably the most extraordinary.

The Uzbek star took the opening set, before the Serbian found his groove and dominated the next two sets to move one away from a third round meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta.

Though Istomin was not finished there – he was ready to make history.

The World No 117 won his second breaker of the match in the fourth to set up an exciting decider, which no one would have predicted.

Istomin broke in game five and remaining strong on his serve, wrapping things up in four hours and 48 minutes when Djokovic blocked another crunching delivery long on match point.

Djokovic conceded his earliest Australian Open loss since his first-round exit in 2006 when he was just 19 years old, whilst Istomin became the first player outside of the top 100 to defeat the Serbian at a Grand Slam.

Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.