French Open: The 4 biggest men’s upsets
Who doesn’t love a David vs Goliath story? Join Tennishead to discover the most surprising upsets to ever at the French Open, including a certain match in which the ‘King of Clay’ was finally conquered.
Ivan Lendl vs Stephane Huet 1993
Heading into the 1993 French Open, Ivan Lendl was a three-time French Open Champion and widely regarded as one of the best players on clay. His opponent in the first round was a 22-year-old French qualifier ranked number 297 in the world, who was not only playing his first ever match in a Grand Slam but also the ATP tour.
Incredibly, the young Frenchman beat the man from Czechoslovakia in four sets even bageling the two-time runner-up. The score read 3-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6(2). To put the two players careers into context, Lendl had already had won 1,027 matches on the ATP tour and 51 matches in the Grand Slams, whereas this was Huet’s first.
Ivan Lendl was in his 14th French Open in 1993, a winner of eight Grand Slams and had been ranked in the top 10 for 13 years. In stark contrast, the qualifier was not even ranked in the top 20 in his country.
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Guillermo Garcias Lopez 2014
Wawrinka was looking to become the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to win the Australian Open and the French Open both in the same year. The third seed at the time was in fantastic form too, having won the Monte Carlo Masters just a few weeks prior to Roland Garros.
However, The Spaniard, ranked 41 in the world, finished off the man from Lausanne in just two hours and 23 minutes only dropping two games in the final two sets played. The score read 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0.
Novak Djokovic vs Marco Cecchinato 2018
Marco Cecchinato delivered an astonishing performance taking out the 2016 French Open champ Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Before the 2018 edition the Italian had never won a Grand Slam match and was a ranked at number 72 in the world.
The man from Sicily won 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 7-6 (13-11), becoming the first Italian to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam since 1978 and the lowest ranked player in the last four at Roland Garros since Ukraine’s Andrei Medvedev (ranked 100) in 1999.
Ultimately, Djokovic did miss opportunities at key moments – including failing to capitalize on three set points during the incredibly tight tie-break in which he did have to save three match points as well.
Rafael Nadal vs Robin Soderling 2009
The biggest shock in ATP French Open history is Rafael Nadal’s first ever loss and 31 unbeaten run at Roland Garros was ended abruptly by the 23rd Robin Soderling of Sweden. The Spaniard was the top seed in the tournament and was again the heavy favorite to lift the trophy in Paris.
He had won the previous four French Open titles and even beat Söderling 6-1, 6-0 a month earlier on clay at the Rome Open. Soderling beat the ‘King of Clay’ 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 to claim an historic win and become only one of two people in the history of the tournament to beat Nadal – the other being Novak Djokovic.
Soderling continued his run in 2009 all the way to the final, however was beaten by Grand Slam legend Roger Federer in three sets as he claimed his one and only French Open title.
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