10 Shock First-Round Grand Slam Exits
Steffi Graf was the three time defending champion at when she walked onto court for her first round match at Wimbledon in 1994. It had also been close to ten years since she had last failed to make the quarter finals at a major. Graf was the clear favourite to win the tournament she had been most successful at in the past and so was prepared for a quick and routine win over her first round opponent, Lori McNeil. Despite moderate levels of success in the past, it’s was still a major shock to the tennis world when McNeil ousted Graf in straight sets.
Lleyton Hewitt the defending champion and number one seed at Wimbledon in 2003. Though he had struggled at the first two grand slams of the year, he had secured his second consecutive Indian Wells title as well as put up strong performances at the Davis Cup. His first round opponent was the, then relatively unknown, Ivo Karlovic, making his grand slam debut. In a shock upset the 24 year-old Croat defeated the tournament favourite. Lleyton Hewitt would finish his career with only a 2-4 record against Karlovic.
Going into Wimbledon in 2013 Rafael Nadal was on and incredible 22 match winning streak. His shock loss in the second round the previous year was seen as a one-off thing, something highly unlikely to repeat itself, after all, Nadal had made the finals at the Wimbledon five times in a row. His first-round opponent was world number 135, Steve Darcis. In one of the shocks of the year Darcis demolished Nadal in straight sets, handing Nadal is first ever first round loss at a major.
Martina Hingis had left the tennis world with a bad taste after her tantrum at the French open final earlier in the year, so coming into Wimbledon the world number one was definitely not the crowd favourite. In the opening round she met sixteen year-old Australian, Jelena Dokic, competing in her very first Wimbledon. In an outrageous turn of events, Dokic dispatched the top seed in less than an hour. Hingis managed to win only two games and ended her streak of eleven consecutive semi-final appearances at grand slams.
Australian Open 2003
Jennifer Capriati was the two-time defending Australian Open champion and third seed heading into the first major of 2003. The draw looked to be in her favour with not much to stress about before a potential quarter final match up with Justine Henin. In her first-round match against Marlene Weingärtner things started to look grim when she lost the second set in a close tiebreaker, and then history was truly made when an unforced error made her the first top 4 player to be knocked out of the first round of the Australian Open women’s draw since 1979.
French Open 2012
Serena Williams enters just about every tournament she enters as the favourite, any early round exit is considered a major shock. Prior to the 2012 French Open her worst result in a slam was a second round exit in the first slam appearance of her career. Serena was seeded fifth and looked to be in good form after a finals appearance at the US Open so when Virginie Razzano gave Serena her first, and to date only, first round loss it’s safe to say that it took everyone by surprise.
French & US Open 1990
Stefan Edberg’s 1990 season in generally considered one of his best. He had an 82% win rate, he won seven titles for the year, including Wimbledon and three Championship Series (Master’s 1000s today), he was the runner up at the Australian Open and the Tennis Master’s Cup, and he finished world number one. It would therefore be strange to think that two of his worst grand slam performances came in the same year. The top seed in both the French Open and the US Open he was on the receiving end of two first round losses. One to future French Open champion Sergi Brugera, and one to Alexander Volkov.
Jimmy Connors is, without question, a true champion of tennis. He spent a total of 268 weeks as the world number one and won eight grand slam titles. Sitting at world number three at Wimbledon in 1986 people were undoubtedly expecting big things from Connors. As it turns out it was the beginning of the end for Connors. He bombed out in the first round, losing to Robert Seguso, and never recaptured the form that had seen him perform so well in the past.
Since the open era began in 1968, every female winner of the French Open had managed to progress past the first round at Wimbledon of the same year…until 2005. Justine Henin went into Wimbledon looking to claim her first title at the All England Club after coming close in her previous three attempts. She had just won the French open and was looking good despite only being seeded seventh. Unfortunately for Henin, Eleni Daniilidou was there to crush her dream but knocking her out in a tight three setter. Henin would finish her career with seven grand slams to her name, though none of them at Wimbledon.
French Open 2001
Lindsay Davenport was the world number two and on a streak of ten consecutive majors reaching the quarter finals or better and had just won the Australian Open defeating three time defending champion Martina Hingis. It looked like Lindsay davenport was in for a big year, and as it contained two further finals appearances at Wimbledon and the US Open, it was certainly big. The biggest disappointment for that season was definitely the shock loss in the first round of the French open to Dominique Van Roost, ruining her quarter final streak and preventing her from finishing that year as world number one.