According to the ATP website, Milos Raonic beating Fernando Verdasco in the San Jose final was one of the top five upsets of the year.
Ridiculous. It was barely in Fernando Verdasco’s top five upsets.
Anyway, it inspired me to compile a more definitive list. To do so I’ve taken subjectivity out of the equation by compiling the biggest upsets of the year based on pre-match odds.
Here’s how you could have made a fortune this year:
(Odds via the excellent Tennis Matchstat)
1. Ivan Dodig d. Rafael Nadal – 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) – Montreal R32 – Odds: 26.89
A match summed up by the Urban Dictionary entry that it inspired.
Trailing 6-1, 3-1 against Rafael Nadal, most players would have thrown in the towel. Not Ivan Dodig.
The Croat fought his way back into the match with a stunningly ballsy display of attacking tennis and net-rushing to oust the then world number one in three hours and nine minutes.
From 5-5 in the tiebreak, Dodig wrapped up the match with an ace and a phenomenal backhand winner. Outbollocksed indeed.
2. Donald Young d. Andy Murray 7/6(4), 6/3 – Indian Wells – R64 – Odds: 14.8
Speaking of testicular fortitude, Andy Murray’s lack thereof in the Australian Open final sent him into a slump that lasted until the start of the clay court season in mid-April.
The Scot was there for the taking and Young obliged, bringing an uncharacteristic level of aggression to the court.
It was a victory that sparked the 145-ranked American’s season into life as he went on the finish the year at 39.
Murray gained his revenge later when he trounced Young in the fourth round of the US Open and again in the Bangkok final.
3. Florian Mayer d. Rafael Nadal 7/6(5), 6/3 – Bangkok R16 – Odds: 11.22
The highlight of a breakthrough year for Funky Flo that saw him claim his maiden career title and break the top 20 for the first time.
His full array of all-court sexiness was on display in Bangkok as he flummoxed a beleaguered Nadal in a straight sets win.
On the day he could do no wrong as you can see from a match point where he feeds Rafa a dose of his own medicine.
4. Yen-Hsun Lu d. Fernando Verdasco 7/6(7), 7/5 – Madrid R64 - Odds: 9.4
The funniest result of the year by a mile. While it doesn’t look anything special at first glance, the hilarity becomes clear once you consider how truly, truly abject Lu is on clay. (An abjectness reflected in his pre-match odds).
Before the Verdasco match, Lu’s career record on the dirt stood at 1-10, the lone victory coming against 234-ranked Alejandro Gonzalez in Roland Garros qualies way back in 2004.
The week before his encounter with Verdasco, Lu was force-fed a bagel by Ervin Eleskovic, a man who has never been inside the world’s top 350.
Since the Verdasco victory, Lu has lost all four clay court matches he played winning just a single set in the process. You get the picture.
Add in the fact it took place in Verdasco’s home city and you have the recipe for an upset of comic proportions.
5. Simone Vagnozzi d. Juan Monaco 6/3, 6/2 Barcelona – R32 – Odds: 8.79
I didn’t see this one so don’t have much to say except that anyone who took Juan Monaco at such a short price against a solid enough lower level Challenger dirtballer deserved to lose their cash.
6. Kei Nishikori d. Novak Djokovic 2/6, 7/6(4), 6/0 – Basel SF – Odds: 8.62
Once this match went to a third set it was a foregone conclusion as a spent Djokovic, hampered by his shoulder problem was put to the sword.
The real upset occurred in the second set when Nishikori fought back from 4-5 0-30 to eventually force a tiebreak and a third set he won easily.
7. Robert d Berdych – 3/6, 3/6, 6/2, 6/2, 9/7 – Roland Garros R128 – Odds: 8.53
The biggest upset in a slam in 2011. Trailing two sets to love, the French veteran decided to swing for the fences in a fine display of what he termed “casino tennis.”
He sailed very close to bust when he faced match point at 4-5 in the deciding set but rallied to claim a spectacular victory.
It was a victory he celebrated in style if his second round match against Fabio Fognini is anything to go by – the Italian prevailing 6/2, 6/1, 6/0 in a ridiculously rapid-fire 69 minutes.
8. Kevin Anderson d. Andy Murray – 6/3, 6/1 Montreal R32 – Odds: 8.48
Murray didn’t have the post-Australian slump to blame for this one but the two-time defending champion was obliterated by the big Saffer in 70 minutes regardless.
The loss it didn’t seem to harm the Scot’s confidence too much as he went on to win 27 of his next 28 matches, claiming four titles in the process.
9. Pablo Andujar d Fernando Verdasco 3/6, 7/6(3), 6/4 – Miami R64 – Odds: 8.2
While nowhere near as bad as his defeat to Lu, Verdasco showed that he can lose to surface no-hopers on hardcourts as well.
After beating Verdasco, Andujar compiled a 1-11 record away from clay for the remainder of the season with a breadstick/bagel defeat to Tobias Kamke in Bangkok the lowlight of that dismal run.
10. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo d Marin Cilic 7/6(5), 6/4, 6/4 – Roland Garros R128 – Odds: 8.18
The veteran Spaniard reached the last 16 at Roland Garros back in 2006 but hadn’t won a main draw match at a slam between then and running into a Marin Cilic operating in full-on mug mode.
The lanky Croat served for the first set but the man with the rolled up right sleeve, backwards cap, extended grunt and cultured moonballs broke back and took control from then on.
Honourable best of five mentions:
Andrey Golubev d. Tomas Berdych 7/5, 5/7, 6/4, 6/2 – Davis Cup World Group R16 – Odds 8.11
Alexandr Dolgopolov Jr d. Robin Soderling 1-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 - Australian Open R16 – Odds: 7.35
Lukas Kubot d. Nicolas Almagro 3/6, 2/6, 7/6(3),7/6(5), 6/4 - Roland Garros R128 – Odds: 7.3
Lukas Rosol d. Jurgen Melzer 6/7(4), 6/4, 4/6, 7/6(3),6/4 – Roland Garros R64 – Odds 6.59
Bernard Tomic d Robin Soderling 6/1, 6/4, 7/5 – Wimbledon R32 – Odds: 6.34