Australian Open - When the 'Underdog' prevailed against all odds!

The Australian Open has produced a lot of memorable encounters for the fans in the past. The extreme heat in Melbourne Park tests the players physically and mentally. 

Sometimes we see great champions lose their matches against unheralded opponents. It is similar to a David vs Goliath battle as the experienced player's skills get tested against the raw talent of an underdog.

Here are the biggest upsets in the first grand slam of the year that created ripples in the sport of tennis

1) Denis Istomin defeats Novak Djokovic (Second Round - Australian Open 2017)

Djokovic had won the last two editions of the Australian Open beating Andy Murray consecutively in the finals. However, the script was different this time as he failed to defend his title. 

The Uzbekistan-born Istomin who entered the tournament through a wild-card entry edged past the Serbian in 5 sets in the second round. Istomin fired 17 aces and won 70% of points on his first-serve. 

Denis Istomin defeats Novak Djokovic
The biggest victory of his life: Istomin screams in joy after stunning the defending champion Djokovic in a brutal five-setter.                            Image Credits - Getty Images

It was the first time that a player ranked outside the top 100 had won against Djokovic in a grand slam. Istomin's booming forehand and variety of shots allowed him to dictate the rallies as Djokovic was forced to play passively. 

It was a bad day for the Serb with his serve as he committed 9 double faults and landed only 58% of his first serves in. 

2) Mischa Zverev wins against Andy Murray (Fourth Round - Australian Open 2017)

Murray had ended up on the wrong side having lost two Australian Open finals in a row against Djokovic. He did not show any signs of rustiness notching up three straight-set victories continuously against Illya Marchenko, Andrey Rublev, and Sam Querrey. 

However, the Brit could not continue his momentum as he lost to Mischa Zverev, the elder brother of Alexander Zverev in four sets in the fourth round. The top seed could win only 47% of points on his second serve. Mischa claimed 63% of points on his first serve. 

Mischa Zverev wins against Andy Murray
Mischa's reaction tells it all: The World number 50 played his best tennis to oust the favorite Murray in 4 sets. Image Credits - Getty Images

The German used his serve and volley game aggressively as Murray's defense let him down under pressure. Out of 99 visits to the net, Mischa won 65 points. His reflex volleys and backhand drop shots were too tough to handle for Murray.

3) Andreas Seppi stuns Roger Federer (Third Round - Australian Open 2015)

Few would have predicted the unseeded Seppi to beat the legend. But he did just that overcoming Federer in four sets in the third round of the tournament. 

All the crucial points were taken by the Italian as the Swiss struggled with his serves and could not lift the level of his game in the tiebreakers. 

Seppi's deep returns helped him to extract errors from Federer and his down the line winners helped him to stay ahead throughout the match. It was the first time since 2003 that Federer had failed to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open. 

Andreas Seppi stuns Roger Federer
Mission accomplished: Seppi won his first match against Federer in 11 meetings. Image Credits - Associated Press

4) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga outlasts Rafael Nadal (Semifinals - Australian Open 2008)

Everything went right for Tsonga as he comprehensively defeated Nadal 6-2 6-3 6-2 in 1 hour and 57 minutes in the semis. The victory helped him to reach his maiden grand slam final. 

The Frenchman hit 17 aces and his deft touches at the net along with blistering groundstrokes and sublime volleys outfoxed the Spaniard. "It is just amazing, unbelievable, nothing could stop me today, I tried to hit everything and everything went in," said Tsonga after his splendid performance against the World number 2. 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga outlasts Rafael Nadal
Unstoppable from start to finish: Tsonga shakes hands at the net after demolishing Nadal in the semifinals. Image Credits - Getty Images

5) Hyeon Chung knocks out Novak Djokovic (Fourth Round - Australian Open 2018)

A bespectacled player from South Korea played an inspired match as he defeated Djokovic in straight sets in the fourth round of the tournament. 

The Serb played with severe elbow pain and it affected his service action. It was the first time since 2007 that Djokovic had failed to win a set in a match at the Australian Open. 

The Serbian committed 9 double faults and 57 unforced errors and hit most of his volleys wide. Chung converted his defense into offense amicably and his cross-court passing shots caught Djokovic on the wrong foot.

Hyeon Chung knocks out Novak Djokovic
The greatest upset of his career: Chung proved to be an immovable force as Djokovic succumbed to him in 3 sets. Image Credits -  Reuters

6) Fernando Verdasco eliminates Rafael Nadal (First Round - Australian Open 2016)

The two Spaniards played an epic five-set thriller in the first round in the 2016 edition. Verdasco won the match with his hard-hitting tennis after trailing by two sets to one. He smashed 20 aces, 90 winners, and won 73% of points on his serve. 

Fernando Verdasco eliminates Rafael Nadal
Champion Stuff: Verdasco consoles his countryman Nadal after winning the battle in 4 hours and 40 minutes. Image Credits - Associated Press

This victory also gave him revenge for the five-set defeat against Nadal in the semifinals of the 2009 Australian Open. The defeat was Nadal’s only first-round loss in the tournament in 11 years.

7) Tomas Berdych overcomes Rafael Nadal (Quarterfinals - Australian Open 2015)

Berdych was unstoppable in this match as he romped home to a straight-sets win (6-2 6-0 7-6) in the quarters. His shotmaking was fantastic to watch as Nadal ran out of answers. 

Tomas Berdych overcomes Rafael Nadal
A dejected Nadal is shell-shocked after an agonizing defeat against an in-form Berdych. Featured Image Credits - Getty Images

It was his first victory against the Spaniard after losing the last 17 matches. Nadal struggled to move on the court and his routine groundstrokes were affected as he was hampered by a right hamstring injury. It was also the first time that Rafa had been bageled in a grand slam after Federer did it in the 2006 Wimbledon final.

The 2021 edition of the Australian Open is also expected to have a few upsets. Which one of the above-mentioned upsets was your favorite or do you have another match in your mind? Do share your opinion in the comments below.

Featured Image Credits - Getty Images

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