From Raducanu to Chang: Our 10 biggest surprise Grand Slam winners

Emma Raducanu’s US Open victory was one of the biggest shocks in tennis history. Here are 10 players who have upset the odds to win a major crown

Emma Raducanu, US Open 2021 © Paul Zimmer / Imago / Panoramic

Emma Raducanu‘s victory at the US Open in 2021 was one of the biggest shocks in tennis history, the young Briton coming through qualifying to take her first title of any kind. Here are 10 of the biggest surprise champions in the Open era.

1. Emma Raducanu

What she did: Won US Open in 2021

Why it was astonishing: In only her second Grand Slam event and ranked 150, the 18-year-old Raducanu won 10 matches without dropping a set to become the first qualifier ever to win a major title and the first British woman to win a slam title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977

2. Goran Ivanisevic

What he did: Won Wimbledon in 2001

Why it was astonishing: Three times the runner-up, Ivanisevic was thought to be a spent force and with a ranking of No 125, he needed a wildcard to even play at Wimbledon in 2001, At 150-1, he was given little chance but he proceeded to rip up the form book and march his way to the title, beating Pat Rafter in one of the most memorable finals of all time.

3. Boris Becker

What he did: Won Wimbledon in 1985

Why it was astonishing: Though Becker had won the title at Queen’s Club, he was unseeded at Wimbledon and at the age of 17, few gave him a chance to come through a field that included John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. But with both Americans beaten by Kevin Curren, the German stormed through to win the first of three titles at the All England Club.

4. Iga Swiatek

What she did: Won the French Open in 2020

Why it was astonishing: Though she had shown immense promise as a junior, winning the girls title at Wimbledon, the Pole was not fancied for the Roland-Garros title and was ranked 54. But Swiatek took out former champion Simona Halep early on and then ripped through the draw, not dropping a set on her way to her first Grand Slam title and her first WTA title of any kind.

5. Gustavo Kuerten

What he did: Won French Open in 1997
Why it was astonishing: No Brazilian player had won a Grand Slam for more than 30 years before a bushy-haired, wiry young 21-year-old rocked up in Paris and duly won the title. His stylish one-handed backhand caused mayhem on the court and his broad smile won over everyone as the world No 66 triumphed in just his third Grand Slam event. He would go on to win two more French Open titles and reach world No 1.

6. Mark Edmondson

What he did: Won Australian Open in 1976
Why it was astonishing: Edmondson had never been past the second round of a slam and was ranked No 212 when the 1976 tournament came around at Kooyong. Edmondson beat veteran Ken Rosewall in the semi-finals but few gave him a chance of beating John Newcombe in the final, only for him to come from behind to win in four sets.

7. Barbora Krejcikova

What she did: Won French Open 2021

Why it was astonishing: Like Iga Swiatek the previous year, Krejcikova was unseeded at Roland-Garros. Ranked 33, she was better known as a doubles player but she found her way in singles on the biggest stage, the Czech beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia to win her first slam title.

Barbora Krejcikova, Roland-Garros 2021
Barbora Krejcikova, Roland-Garros 2021

8. Michael Chang

What he did: Won the French Open in 1989
Why it was astonishing: Though Chang was the No 15 seed, he was only 17 and the previous year had been hammered by John McEnroe in the third round. One year on, though, everything was different and Chang stunned Ivan Lendl – despite cramps – famously using an underarm serve and then upset Stefan Edberg in the final to become the youngest man to win a Grand Slam title.

9. Francesca Schiavone

What she did: Won French Open in 2010
Why it was astonishing: The Italian had never been past the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam event before. Seeded No 17, she produced a series of brilliant performances, slicing and dicing on the clay at Roland-Garros to win her only Grand Slam title.

10. Thomas Johansson

What he did: Won Australian Open in 2002
Why it was astonishing: Johansson was the No 16 seed in Melbourne but had never gone beyond the third round in seven previous appearances. Yet, with favourite Andre Agassi pulling out through injury and the likes of Pete Sampras, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Lleyton Hewitt going out early, the draw opened up. Still the Swede had to face Marat Safin in the final but he pulled off a surprise win in four sets for the outstanding moment in his career.

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