Every once in a while, the underdog has his day. That is what makes sports special—witnessing the unexpected hero burst across the finish line or watching some Division II team knock off Alabama.
It is almost equally as exciting to watch an extended winning streak, waiting for that team or that player to finally lose. Sometimes the streak can last over more than one season.
In tennis, most tend to expect the top seeds to be standing at the end of a tournament. Seeing Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic in the final is no big surprise. The seeding process tries to ensure that this happens. Naturally, tournament officials want the best players to last to the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds.
This has not always been the case for tennis at the Olympics, especially in the men's draw. In 1992 and 2004, most of the top male seeds were sent packing very early. Those losses paved the way for many surprise finishes during those years.
While 2012 promises a more traditional ending with most of the top seeds surviving, prior years offered lesser-known tennis players an opportunity to do something unexpected—medal at the Summer Olympics.
Following are the best of 25 surprising runs at the Summer Games. Some are based on an unexpected player making it to the final rounds, while others listed are based on the length and duration of winning streaks over consecutive Olympic seasons.