US Open Tennis: 5 of the Biggest Underdog Wins in Tournament's History
Throughout the long history of the US Open there have been countless upsets, going all the way back to the beginning of the tournament in 1881. The more recognizable upsets have occurred in modern day, at least for the casual fan.
Since the USTA switched over from the clay surface to hard courts in 1978, the athleticism and quality of play year in a year out has vastly improved. The underdog stories are always well covered, and let's be realistic, everyone does love an underdog. In addition, not all underdog victories significance is based on the round they occur, but rather they are decided by ranking differential and overall experience/careers.
1990: Linda Ferrando Defeats Monica Seles
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Monica Seles was one of the most dominant female tennis players of her time, and that included 1990. Fresh off winning the 1990 French Open, Seles was ranked No. 2 in the world going into the 1990 US Open.
And then she she met Linda Ferrando in the third round.
Coming into the 1990 US Open, Ferrando had never managed to get past the second round in any Grand Slam major until this point and was ranked No. 82 in the world prior to the tournament. Up until the match, Seles had dominated her first two opponents losing a total of just six games in the two match span.
The match was a nail-biter. Seles dominated that first set 6-1 before losing to Ferrando 6-1 in the second set and forced a third set. Ferrando played hard along the baseline but was also extremely aggressive at the net, and this turned out to be the difference maker. With all her passion and fight for the win, Ferrando defeated Seles in the third set, 7-6 in a tiebreaker.
2009: John Isner Defeats Andy Roddick
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Ever since the days of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras came to a close, Andy Roddick has stepped into the spotlight as the sentimental favorite at the US Open. Before the Juan Martin Del Potro-underdog win over Roger Federer in the finals of the 2009 US Open, one other upset had already taken place.
Fifth-seeded Roddick, and one of the favorites to win, faced off against fairly unknown (at the time) and fellow American John Isner, who was ranked 55th in the world. Both men played their very best tennis, but Isner managed to outlast Roddick in the four-hour, five set match.
This match was an amazing one for the Flushing faithful under the lights. Power versus power from start to finish. In the end Isner was too much for Roddick to handle and prevailed with a 7-6 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (5) victory in the third round of the 2009 US Open.
2009: Juan Martin Del Potro Defeats Roger Federer
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If you were to look at the name Juan Martin Del Potro today, you probably wouldn't think of him as an "underdog", but back in 2009, anyone that came in the path of the mighty Roger Federer was just that.
Although Del Potro was seeded sixth coming into the tournament, Federer was an astonishing 47-7 before the US Open and had previously won both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season. Not only was Federer difficult to face in 2009, but he was also the five-time defending US Open champion. This made the challenge that much greater as Del Potro was facing Federer in the finals.
Del Potro battled long and hard, eventually breaking the world's best player to win 3-6, 7–6(5), 4–6, 7–6(4), 6–2, sealing the US Open Championship for himself.
1983: Bill Scanlon Defeats John McEnroe
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One of the bigger underdog stories in US Open history, Bill Scanlon entered the 1983 Open as an unranked player. After advancing to the fourth round of the Open, Scanlon would face off against the ever-so-famous, top-ranked John McEnroe.
McEnroe, known for his huge ego and multiple on-court tirades never thought Scanlon had the slightest opportunity to defeat him. The underdog story really came into light in '83. Scanlon gained the backing of the NYC crowd even though McEnroe was the hometown boy. Before the match even began McEnroe was agitated, and once it began it only got worse.
To his dismay, McEnroe ended up losing in just four sets to Scanlon. The final boxscore stood as 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 in favor of Bill Scanlon. Of course, following the match was another one of McEnroe's explosive angry moments, but no one could take any of the attention or glory away from Scanlon.
2008: Julie Coin Defeats Ana Ivanovic
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In the 2008 US Open, the No. 1-ranked women's player, Ana Ivanovic, faced off against Julie Coin, who entered the tournament ranked 188th in the world in the second round of the tournament. This was shaping up to be one of those matches where you just look at it and assume an easy 6-1, 6-1, two-set victory and another warm up match early on in the tournament. If that is how Ivanovic felt about the match up she was in for the shock of her career.
The 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic was broken three separate times and found herself in a two-hour match against Coin. Ivanovic had eight double faults and Coin was able to stun the tennis world with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory. This was the first time in the history of the US Open a No. 1 seed failed to advance to the third round, and Coin's win has been hailed as possibly the biggest in modern tennis history.
Everyone Loves an Underdog
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The previously mentioned underdog victories are just a few of the many that have occurred in the modern day US Open. They are also some of the most notable ones.
Let's not forget others such as Petr Korda over Pete Sampras in 1997, Jan Kodes over John Newcome in 1977, Alexander Volkov over Stefan Edberg in 1990, or even Tracy Austin's astonishing victory over Sue Barker in 1977, but these are just some of the best.
Everyone loves the underdog.