On the Ball: Biggest US Open Upsets

By Dave Martin, Epoch Times

Cici Bellis’s first round upset of 12th seeded Domika Cibulkova was one of the bigger upsets in recent history at Flushing—any time a 15-year-old wins a match at a major, it’s news. Where it ranks all-time is hard to say at this point. Will Bellis end up being one of the better players in history and this is just her coming out party? In that case, it probably won’t rank so high—at least not in the top-five over the last 25 years. Here are the five biggest:

5. (1-seed) Ana Ivanovic Upset by Julie Coin (unseeded) 6–3, 4–6, 6–3 in the 2nd Round in 2008:

Coin was ranked 188th in the world when she knocked off Ivanovic, who had won the French Open earlier in the year, while finishing runner-up at the Australian. But on this day Ivanovic looked like she was wilting under the pressure of being the top seed, as her 34 unforced errors and 8 double faults against Coin showed. The upset marked the earliest U.S. Open exit for a women’s top seed in the open era.

4. (1) Pete Sampras Upset by (unseeded) Jaime Yzaga 3–6, 6–3, 4–6, 7–6 (4), 7–5 in the 4th Round in 1994:

Sampras, the No. 1 player in the world, was coming off a Wimbledon title, but had developed a case of tendinitis in his left ankle and missed the tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open. Somewhat out of shape, the defending champion Sampras somehow made it through the first three rounds, but when Yzaga took him to a fifth set, Sampras was gassed. Still he rallied from a 5–2 deficit in the fifth to even it up at five all, but Yzaga was able to break him and win.

3. (1) Roger Federer Upset by (6-seed) Juan Martin Del Potro 3–6, 7–6 (5), 4–6, 7–6 (4), 6–2 in the 2009 Finals:

For most anyone else, a loss in the finals of a Grand Slam event to a top-10 player wouldn’t be considered an upset—but Federer, in his ridiculous prime in 2009, was nearly invincible. Federer came into the match having won the last five U.S. Opens, as well as the preceding Wimbledon and French Opens that year, and though he’d had his problems with Rafael Nadal, no one thought he was touchable by anyone else—they were wrong. The 6-foot, 6- inch Argentine had previously ripped Nadal in the semis. Against Federer, he twice came back from one-set deficits to knock off the world’s No. 1, who uncharacteristically double-faulted 12 times against the 20-year-old.

2. (1) Andre Agassi Upset by (unseeded) Arnaud Clement 6–3, 6–2, 6–4 in the 2nd Round in 2000:

Agassi, who won his second U.S. Open the previous year, came into this one as the world’s No. 1 player. For whatever reason though Agassi just didn’t have it against Clement. The popular American hit just 19 winners—to Clement’s 36—while being hamstrung by 27 unforced errors and the result was a shocking straight-sets loss.

1. (1) Stefan Edberg Upset by (unseeded) Alexander Volkov 6–3, 7–6 (3), 6–2 in the 1st Round in 1990:

There can be plenty of debate with where the other upsets should fit on this list. After all, Federer’s loss was in the finals, Agassi’s whole career was a rollercoaster ride, Sampras was coming off an injury, and Ivanovic hasn’t sniffed a major since. But Edberg losing to Volkov, in straight sets in the first round, is hands-down the biggest upset the U.S. Open has seen over the last quarter-century. For one thing, the 24-year-old Edberg was in the prime of his career. He was coming off his second Wimbledon title for his fourth major win, and would even go on to take the next two U.S. Opens, but this was not his best showing. Edberg appeared slower than normal and his forehand was nonexistent and the 52-ranked Volkov took full advantage to pull off the upset.