These surprising results have helped to make the Roland Garros as one of the most unpredictable tournaments in the world.
The French Open is currently underway in Paris and it has already given us some upsets. Grigor Dimitrov retired in the first round while 25th seeded Brit Dan Evans crashed out of the tournament as well. But, perhaps the most surprising result was Dominic Thiem’s exit. The two time French Open finalist went down to unseeded Spanish opponent Pablo Andujar.
Even more surprising was the fact that Thiem was leading by 2-0 at one stage. He also generated a breakpoint in the third set and looked to be on course for a win. However, Andujar made a great comeback and registered the victory.
Let’s take a look at the five such upsets at the Roland Garros:
5. Serena Williams Vs Virginie Razzano
Fifth seeded Serena Williams made an early exit in the 2012 French Open. She played against France’s Virginie Razzano and came out on the losing side. It was the first time Serena had crashed out in the opening rounds of a Grand Slam event.
“There is no excuse,” admitted Williams after the match ended with a scoreline of 6-4, 6-7, 3-6. Moreover, Razzano was ranked 111th and so the surprise was even greater. Razzano was ecstatic after the win and justifiably so after getting a win over such a decorated opponent. The boisterous home crowd cheered her on after the commendable feat.
4. Justine Henin Vs Tathiana Garbin
Defending champion Justine Henin was in for a surprise at the 2004 French Open. Playing in the second round against 86th ranked Garbin, she lost in straight sets. Henin’s exit was one of the earliest exits of a defending champion in the history of Grand Slams.
Moreover, Garbin won the game in straight sets (7-5, 6-4) to make it through to the third round. This was the first time in 79 years that a top seed had lost before the third round at the Roland Garros. Henin came into the tournament after six weeks of inactivity while recovering from flu and Garbin took full advantage of it to cause one of the biggest upsets of all time.
As Garbin clinched the match with a cracking backhand pass the crowd stood up to applaud the Italian’s brilliant performance.
3. Rafael Nadal Vs Robin Soderling
Rafael Nadal came into the 2009 French Open as a four time defending champion. The Spaniard is one of the most dominant players on clay. Moreover, he came into the Roland Garros with a perfect 31-0 singles record. Every oddsmaker predicted Nadal’s victory.
However, they were in for a surprise as Nadal went down to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in the fourth round. The match finished with a scoreline of 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 — resulting in Nadal’s first blemish at Roland Garros. The most surprising thing about this match was the fact the Soderling had played Nadal a month back on clay and lost. Ironically the Swede had only managed to win one game in that match.
2. Ivan Lendl Vs Michael Chang
One of the most famous upsets in history took place in the fourth round of the French Open in 1989. Michael Chang defeated three time French Open champion Ivan Lendl.
Chang was deemed as a major underdog in the contest and no one was willing to give him a chance. Moreover, Chang’s short stature at 5’9″ and small frame at 161 pounds also became talking points before the game. However, he proved all the doubters wrong with his brilliant performance.
The match went on for four and half hours with Chang coming out victorious. The match ended with a scoreline of 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 for Chang as the enthralled audience along with Michael’s mom proudly cheered on from the stands.
1. Simona Halep Vs Iga Swiatek
The French Open witnessed a big upset when unseeded Iga Swiatek defeated first seed Simona Halep in 2020. Swiatek then went on to clinch the French Open title. She became the first player since Jelena Ostapenko to win a major tournament as her maiden singles title.
The Polish teenager had not dropped a single set on her way to the fourth round and neither did her opponent. Halep also rode on a career best 17 matches winning streak and was on the hunt for her second French Open title. However, Simona could only manage three points in the entire match. The match ended 6-1, 6-2 in the favour of Swiatek.
The Romanian was completely outplayed in the entire game as Swiatek piled on winners after winners. The teen’s precision and power on the court became a key factor behind the win and also the reason behind a major upset.
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