Top 10 Great Men's Singles Australian Open surprises in the open era
The Australian Open has produced some surprising results over the years. Since the mid 1980s, when the event revived, there have been a number of top players that have arrived in Australia with little match play after the off-season. Boris Becker won the event twice but lost early many times. Pete Sampras won five US titles on hard courts, but he only won twice on the hard courts of the Australian. In later years his great rival Andre Agassi often prepared rigorously for the Australian and it paid off, whereas Sampras sometimes looked rusty. To qualify for this list, the player that lost must be seeded in the top four and the player that won must be seeded outside the top 16.
1. Edmondson v Newcombe 1976 final
This was one of the greatest upsets of all time. Mark Edmondson was completely unknown when he won the 1976 Australian Open. He had caused a major upset when he'd beaten veteran top seed Ken Rosewall in the semi finals. However, Rosewall was 41 and past his best. John Newcombe was the second seed and defending champion. He was the overwhelming favourite. Edmondson hit form and won in four sets to become the lowest ranked man ever to win a Grand Slam title.
2. Istomin v Djokovic 2017 2nd round
This was one of the greatest upsets of all time. Djokovic had won four Grand Slams in a row in 2015-16, but had lost surprisingly at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey, so the warning signs were there. However, no one expected him to lose to a player ranked outside the top 100 at his most successful Grand Slam venue. But Istomin claimed a five set victory in a tournament of upsets.
3. Meiler v Rosewall 1973 2nd round
This was a massive upset. Ken Rosewall was the top seed and two time defending champion and Karl Meiler was a journeyman. From 1952 to 1977 Rosewall only failed to reach the quarter finals of the Australian twice and this was one of those occasions. Meiler won easily. The following year Rosewall made the Wimbledon and US finals.
4. Jarryd v Becker 1993 1st round
This was one of Boris Becker's lowest points during his years of decline in the early 1990s. Anders Jarryd had been a good singles player (Becker had beaten him in the semis of Wimbledon in 1985). However, by 1993 Jarryd was a veteran and his ranking was outside the top 100. Fourth seeded Becker lost in five sets. In 1995 he lost in the first round to Pat McEnroe. In 1996 he was two sets to love down in the second round against Thomas Johansson and fought back to win and eventually won the tournament. Outside of Wimbledon, Becker was probably the most unpredictable top player in the history of the game. He might win the event or he might lose early.
5. Kucera v Sampras 1998 quarter final
In 1998 top seed and defending champion Pete Sampras was the favourite but he lost surprisingly in four sets to Karel Kucera. Petr Korda ended Kucera's hopes in the semis and then won the final.
6. Zivojinovic v McEnroe 1985 quarter final
John McEnroe was a grass court expert. In 1985 the event was still held on grass. Yet second seed McEnroe was beaten in five sets by the big serving Slobodan Zivojinovic, who reached the semis of Wimbledon the following year.
7. Philippoussis v Sampras 1996 3rd round
This was a prime example of the unseeded player with nothing to lose playing brilliantly to overwhelm their highly seeded opponent. Pete Sampras was top seed and at the peak of his powers. Mark Philippoussis had been a promising junior and this was one of the first times he'd played a big match in a Grand Slam. He thrilled the home fans by blasting Sampras off the court in straight sets. Then Philippoussis lost easily to Mark Woodforde in the next round. Philippoussis reached a US and Wimbledon final but never won a Grand Slam, surprising for a man of his ability.
8. Masur v Becker 1987 4th round
Which one of Becker's surprise losses to choose next? How about this one from 1987. Becker was seeded two and at the peak of his powers on grass at this time (this was the last time the event was held on grass). Wally Masur was a good player but not in Becker's class. Masur won in five sets and reached the semis.
9. Krishnan v Wilander 1989 2nd round
At the time this was a huge upset. Mats Wilander had won three Grand Slam titles in 1988 and was the world number one. He was beaten in straight sets in the second round by Ramesh Krishnan, who never reached the semis of a Grand Slam. In hindsight this can be seen as the beginning of the end for Wilander, who was never the same after winning the 1988 US Open.
10. McEnroe v Becker 1992 3rd round
Time for another Becker upset. This time it's his straight sets loss when seeded three to veteran John McEnroe. McEnroe was nearly 33 years old and a long way past his best, yet he played one of his best matches in years to beat an out of form Becker.
The top surprise that almost came to pass but didn't
Agassi v Etlis 1996 1st round
Andre Agassi was the second seed. He was carrying an injury. Who even was this guy he was playing? Someone from Argentina who rarely played in Grand Slam events because his ranking was so low. Etlis served for the match but he choked and Agassi survived. Agassi lost in the semis to Chang.
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