The Eight Most Surprising Head-to-Head Records in Tennis

Jeffrey Ruth@@ruthjeffreyaFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2013

The Eight Most Surprising Head-to-Head Records in Tennis

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    When Roger Federer loses to Rafael Nadal, it is an event, albeit not a surprising event.

    Certain head-to-head records do not stun tennis fans at all. 

    When two great players meet, it is often just a matter of how they play on the day, as Andy Murray has previously pointed out to reporters.  After all, it would be difficult to imagine the top players completely dominating each other on a regular basis.

    On the other hand, there are results that do indeed boggle the mind.  When a top player has a genuine difficulty in beating another player routinely who is ranked well below him, that is noteworthy.

    Here is a compilation of some of those unexpected results that will surprise any tennis fan.

Ivan Lendl 3, Derrick Rostagno 2

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    Ivan Lendl dominated tennis during his career.

    Apart from Wimbledon, he won nearly everything else, and with alarming regularity.  His head-to-head record was intimidating.  Even the stars of his time rarely won more than half of their matches against him.

    Enter Derrick Rostagno.

    Followers of tennis in the late-1980s understand how surprising this statistic really is.

    Rostagno, of Hollywood, Calif.,  never did crack the ATP Top 10 world player rankings, and prepared for tournaments by surfing.  But he was not starstruck by the Czech champion.  Against Lendl, he finished with a 2-3 record, winning their last two meetings.

    Did Lendl quit tennis to get away from Rostagno? Probably not, but one has to wonder.

Battle of the Andres

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    Andre Agassi may have won the career grand slam, but Agassi also lost to Andres Gomez regularly.

    Too good to be true? 

    Agassi's loss at the 1990 French Open was merely a highlight of how many of their meetings played out.  It didn't get any better for Agassi, who only won two out of the five meetings between them.

    In other words, Agassi may have blamed the fake mullet for his Roland Garros debacle, but he's got some explaining to do for his other losses to Gomez.

Ferrer the Flop?

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    David Ferrer doesn't get a lot of respect from fans, as the press routinely points out, and he is regularly left out of the grand slam hopefuls.

    Maybe that is because he cannot beat the No. 35 player in the world.

    To be fair, he has beaten Julien Benneteau four times, but he has also lost to him four times.  That is not encouraging news for Ferrer fans, especially since the French player has only been ranked as high as No. 15, while Ferrer is, somewhat amazingly, currently ranked No. 3.

    Congratulations Ferrer, you made the list of head-to-head surprises.

Simon Stuns Del Potro

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    Juan Martin Del Potro has a blistering forehand that can dominate the court.

    It just can't dominate Gilles Simon.

    Del Potro won the U.S. Open in 2009 while Simon won at Bucharest three times.  Not to be cynical, but there is a bit of a difference there.  However, when the two meet, their record somehow evens out, going back and forth through the years.  It is a dead heat at 3-3.

    That includes a Simon win at the 2011 U.S. Open

    It's stunning.

Who Is Nadal's Daddy? Davydenko

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    Rafael Nadal is a pretty good player.

    Unfortunately for Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko may not agree.

    The Russian holds a 6-5 advantage over the man from Mallorca.  In fact, Davydenko held a four-match winning streak over Nadal from 2009-11.  Who else has defeated him four times in a row?

    Only Novak Djokovic, however, Davydenko is no Novak Djokovic.

    So what is Nadal's problem with this matchup?  Perhaps he doesn't take it seriously enough.  During his Nadal's loss to Davydenko at the ATP World Tour Finals in 2009, a fan yelled something directly to help Nadal—"Wake up!"

Federer Frets over Nalbandian

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    Roger Federer, perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time, usually beats world No. 191 David Nalbandian.

    How's that for a headline?

    Nalbandian's victories over 'FedEx" include five Masters tournaments, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.  There was also the matter of a certain victory in Federer's hometown of Basel several years ago. 

    Over the years, Federer's edge over Malbandian on the court is only 11-8.

    The argument can't be made that the Argentinian is actually the better player.  It does, however, show that there are some surprising head-to-head records out there.

    Really surprising.

Murray Rarely Bags Baghdatis

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    It's a good thing that Andy Murray's net worth is estimated to be $38 million, according to

    That will buy a few pints at the pub every time he thinks about his record against Marcos Baghdatis

    To be fair to the Scot, Murray has only lost to the native of Cyprus once in a grand slam event. Unfortunately for Murray, it was on the lawns of Wimbledon, as reported by the BBC.

    Their head-to-head record is 5-3 in favor of Murray.  That would be just fine if it were his record against another true contender.  Baghdatis, though, is ranked No. 44 in the world.

    That is just a sad stat for Murray, who is ranked No. 2 in the ATP world rankings. Luckily for him, there has never been a Davis Cup meeting between Great Britain and Cyprus.

Novak's Nemesis

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    If a coin were flipped, the odds of it landing as heads would be roughly the same odds that Novak Djokovic would have of beating Fernando Verdasco.

    Yes, Fernando Verdasco.

    Everyone has his nemesis.  For some, it is more surprising than for others.  Yet in some instances it is downright unbelievable. 

    The Spaniard has spent a whopping year among the top 10 of the tennis world.  Beyond that is, well just beyond.

    Djokovic has five wins and four losses against Verdasco. That is almost identical to his win ratio against Andy Murray.  The implications are interesting, to say the least.