Over the last decade, tennis has been as competitive and thrilling to watch as arguably ever before, but especially on the WTA Tour. Shocks and surprise results are not just possible at any Grand Slam event, but have become somewhat the norm.
Whether it’s world number one’s getting eliminated early, or history beckoning for some, the last ten years have thrown up some stunning results that shaped how tournaments played out. Below is a list of some of the unexpected wins from players who shocked the tennis world.
Sabine Lisicki beats Serena Williams at the All England Club
For many, Serena Williams is the best women’s player ever, and 2013 was yet another year in which she was dominant. It was her sixth year with two Grand Slam victories, and while it was a great year for the American, with those successes coming at Roland Garros and on home soil at the US Open, there was still room for a shock.
Enter Sabine Lisicki. A young talented German player, who once hated grass courts due to allergies, quickly fell in love with it after she beat Williams in the fourth round.
Williams had won three out of the last four slams, starting with the Wimbledon title a year earlier. While Lisicki was a known commodity to tennis fans and ranked twenty-third in the world heading into the event, she had failed to make her mark at any other Grand Slam event other than Wimbledon.
It was a semi-final appearance where she lost to Maria Sharapova. And aside from making the last eight the following season, Lisicki had not come close to making another run since 2014, and while the 30 year-old was always a player for the big occasion, the form Williams had shown leading up to the contest, made the victory that much more stunning to a shocked British crowd.
Williams was not the only major player upset in the tournament, as Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all made early exists.
Defending Champion Muguruza Sent Packing in Round Two
In 2018, Spanish sensation and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza, entered Wimbledon as the defending champion and off the back of a semifinal appearance at the French Open.
However, after a first round win over British wildcard Naomi Broady, the world number three at the time lost in a stunning match to unseeded Belgian, Alison Van Uytvanck. The loss for Muguruza had a bigger effect than expected as the Spanish star struggled to regain any real form until reaching the Australian Open earlier this year.
After a slow start from Muguruza, she took the opening set seven games to five, but won only three more games the rest of the way as Uytvanck produced a performance that left Wimbledon yet again as the tournament of upsets.
It was the first top ten win of the Belgian player’s career which still remains the case. There were no signs of this surprising result happening as Muguruza’s great form and the Belgian’s lackluster Grand Slam career, left what was a seemingly impossible result to take shape.
Italian delight at Flushing Meadows
Perhaps the biggest shock on this list, and undoubtedly one of the more unforeseen victories to happen was at the US Open in 2015, when veteran Italian Roberta Vinci shocked the American crowd to beat Serena Williams.
While any player who is competing in a semi-final match would be given a relatively good chance to win, this was not one of those moments as Williams was on the brink of history.
In 1970, Margeret Court, and then again in 1988 with Steffi Graff, the two became the only women in the Open Era to complete a calendar Grand Slam. After victories at the Australian and French Open, along with Wimbledon, it seemed inevitable that Williams would add her name to that list as she was only two games away.
The victory was as unlikely a win as you could have imagined that year, with the Italian’s game appearing to be a complete mismatch for the power hitting of Williams. Vinci used her grit and incredible back-court resistance to move Williams around and eventually wear her highly accomplished opponent down.
With a career that saw Vinci win all four doubles Grand Slams, and ten WTA singles titles, it was without doubt a career that will be remembered fondly for here astonishing victory over Williams in New York.
Halep Suffers Back-to-Back Shocks
Simona Halep has been one of the best players on tour over the last few years, which includes being ranked number one in the world twice, alongside two Grand Slam wins at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
However, after winning the French Open in 2018 against Sloane Stephens in three sets, Halep was on the receiving end of two dramatic performances, the first of which by Su-Wei Hsieh.
Halep entered the event as the top seed, but after taking the first set, the Taiwan shocked the Romanian to secure a third round victory. This is not the first time Hsieh has produced stunning performances though, as she has beaten various top ten players before, such as Muguruza, Kerber, Naomi Osaka and Agnieszka Radwanska to name a few.
With Halep unmoved from atop the WTA rankings for the whole year and in the best form of her career, defeat against Hsieh looked to be an unrealistic outcome at best. Hsieh like Vinci, was considered a doubles specialist which usually does not translate into these types of performances, but the player from Taiwan showed what dangers she posed, as Halep duly found out.
If Halep thought that was it for the year, then think again, as the US Open produced quite possibly an even bigger surprise than that of Wimbledon, when Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi beat Halep in a convincing straight sets win.
While Halep has not always backed up her success consistently, this would have been as disappointing as any of here losses in recent memory due to what happened only a few months earlier.
Kanepi achieved a highest ranking of fifteenth in 2012, but has failed to rediscover that same form that took her just outside the top ten, and now ranks just inside the top 100 players. Injuries have curtailed the Estonian development at times, but a significant win against Halep showed once again that the women’s side of the sport, really is any given player on any given day.