What is the biggest slam finale loss of a heavy favourite in the Open Era?

Which is the most unexpected slam finale loss of a clear favourite?

  • Agassi losing to Gomez FO90

  • Edberg losing to Chang FO89

  • Safin losing to Johansson AO02

  • Federer losing to Delpo USO09

  • Coria losing to Gaudio FO04

  • Bruguera losing to Kuerten FO97

  • Ivanisevic losing to Agassi W92 (borderline, I admit, but GI was considered a shoe-in)

  • Becker losing to Stich W91

  • Ferrero losing to A.Costa FO02 (somewhat borderline, perhaps)


Results are only viewable after voting.
Johansson-Safin for me.

Albeit I’m speaking with the benefit of hindsight - as in, knowing that Johansson did diddly squat after that win.

I concede it’s possible that Chang’s win could be the most shocking, as a barely 17 year old, if you didn’t know that he would have a decade as a consistent top 10-er and slam contender.
 

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
Johansson-Safin for me.

Albeit I’m speaking with the benefit of hindsight - as in, knowing that Johansson did diddly squat after that win.

I concede it’s possible that Chang’s win could be the most shocking, as a barely 17 year old, if you didn’t know that he would have a decade as a consistent top 10-er and slam contender.
Well, the point of the thread is NOT to use hindsight, but who was heavy favourite at the time...
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
1984 FO, Lendl beat McEnroe. Mac was undefeated that year headed into that final. Lendl had the reputation of being a choker at that time. I remember this quite well as a Mac fan. Everybody expected Mac to destroy Lendl. That loss, given that I was only a teenager, is the toughest one as a fan that I ever experienced. McEnroe was slaughtering just about everybody that year.
 

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
Johansson-Safin for me.

Albeit I’m speaking with the benefit of hindsight - as in, knowing that Johansson did diddly squat after that win.

I concede it’s possible that Chang’s win could be the most shocking, as a barely 17 year old, if you didn’t know that he would have a decade as a consistent top 10-er and slam contender.
The story goes that he was heavily partying before the finale.

Sounds realistic, considering how amateurish Safin was known to be sometimes.
 

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
1984 FO, Lendl beat McEnroe. Mac was undefeated that year headed into that final. Lendl had the reputation of being a choker at that time. I remember this quite well as a Mac fan. Everybody expected Mac to destroy Lendl. That loss, given that I was only a teenager, is the toughest one as a fan that I ever experienced. McEnroe was slaughtering just about everybody that year.
I didn´t want to include that finale, because Lendl was a former no 1 and multi-slam finalist. Mac may have been the favourite but not by a large margin, surely...
 

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
Wawrinka beating Djokovic at the 2015 French has to be up there.
Wawrinka was already a slam champ. Novak was favourite but not HEAVY favourite. Wawrinka had already beaten him at AO and pushed him several times more to 5 sets in slams. Check out the examples above, those are examples of heavy favourites... mostly.

I do admit that I considered adding it, but to me it just isn´t in the class of most of the matches listed.
 

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
What is the biggest slam finale loss of a heavy favourite in the Open Era?
You left off McEnroe vs Lendl at the 1984 French Open final. Even before McEnroe went on to shatter all competition at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open of the same year, his play at the FO--including most of the final--was a sight to behold. His allowing himself to be distracted cost him dearly, and he regrets it to this day.
 
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UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
You left off McEnroe vs Lendl at the 1984 French Open final. Even before McEnroe went on to shatter all competition at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open of the same year, he is play at the FO--including most of the final--was a sight to behold. His allowing himself to be distracted cost him dearly, and he regrets it to this day.
You can´t tell me Mac was HEAVY favourite. Most of his domination of 1984 came AFTER FO, when he won W and USO, hence you are using hindsight, which is not the point of the thread. Lendl was a heavily established great player on clay by 1984, a former no 1 already, and had beaten Mac on clay.

They were 1-1 H2H on European clay before the finale. WHY would Mac be HUGE favourite in that match? Because he lead 2-0? This thread isn´t about missed chances, it´s about HEAVY favourites losing finales. Lendl was very far from a nobody.
 

Sudacafan

G.O.A.T.
1984 FO, Lendl beat McEnroe. Mac was undefeated that year headed into that final. Lendl had the reputation of being a choker at that time. I remember this quite well as a Mac fan. Everybody expected Mac to destroy Lendl. That loss, given that I was only a teenager, is the toughest one as a fan that I ever experienced. McEnroe was slaughtering just about everybody that year.
Not so fast. It was a match on clay.
 

BeatlesFan

Talk Tennis Guru
Not so fast. It was a match on clay.
Doesn't matter. This is THE match of my life and I remember the lead up and everything else. Mac was prohibitively and overwhelmingly favored in the 1984 FO final. You also neglect to mention that Mac trounced Ivan in two clay matches leading up to the '84 FO final in the weeks leading up to RG: in the WCT Champion's Tournament and then the World Team Cup. Lendl didn't come close to winning a set in either match.
 
Safin-Johansson and Coria-Gaudio, so bad so sad.

Within the match context, agree it's McEnroe-Lendl. GodEnroe was routining everyone even on clay that year, crushed Lendl in the Forest Hills final a week before RG and resumed the crushing in the first two sets of the RG final... Lendl's comeback was one of the greatest in all of tennis history. Mac still hates thinking about it.
 

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
You can´t tell me Mac was HEAVY favourite.
He was. I was there to know how he was considered, and he was the favorite.


hence you are using hindsight
No, as stated above. I saw it all as it happened, and Lendl was not the favorite--McEnroe was, and his play throughout that FO was more than enough evidence of that fact.


Doesn't matter. This is THE match of my life and I remember the lead up and everything else. Mac was prohibitively and overwhelmingly favored in the 1984 FO final.
True.

You also neglect to mention that Mac trounced Ivan in two clay matches leading up to the '84 FO final in the weeks leading up to RG: in the WCT Champion's Tournament and then the World Team Cup. Lendl didn't come close to winning a set in either match.
...which did not make Lendl the French Open favorite. McEnroe was.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
Maria Sharapova over Serena Williams - 2004 Wimbledon? Anyone?
Serena’s lost quite a lot of finals to players she should’ve beaten. Players ranging from 17 year old Sharapova, Stosur, Kerber (2x), Muguruza, and now 19 year old Andrescu.
 

King No1e

Legend
RG15 has to be the biggest one. Yes Wawrinka had already won a Slam, but nobody expected him to win another and beat Djokovic to do it.
 
I guess we can't know for sure what the biggest upset was in terms of actual odds(and we all know the opinions of many posters here don't often reflect reality)

But I was in England during Wimbledon in 92, and read all odds(they were in the newspaper every day) and I'm certain Goran was at best, a slight favorite(remember we aren't talking about pre tournament odds - agassi was considered the real deal by the time of the final considering who he beat to get there). Ditto Becker over Curren in 85, by the time of the final, Becker was legit with bookies.
Stich over Becker and Ashe over Connors were much bigger upsets. Stich was actually a more obscure name in 91 than Becker was in 85 despite being ranked higher(Becker had won queens and was already somewhat of a sensation with the press when Wimbledon began that year, they even put him on center court for his first round match even though he was unseeded)

I would bet Edberg was a slight favorite over Chang(again we aren't talking pre tournament odds, I can't believe any follower of the game was truly shocked that he won that match)

I suspect the same with Kuerten in 97, I can't believe bruguera was anymore than a slight favorite in that final(his level of play was pretty low that year, he was a shadow of the player who won in 94)

I think Majoli over Hingis trumps any thing mentioned so far.
 

Aussie Darcy

Bionic Poster
Serena’s lost quite a lot of finals to players she should’ve beaten. Players ranging from 17 year old Sharapova, Stosur, Kerber (2x), Muguruza, and now 19 year old Andrescu.
Yeah but this was around her peak and you're allso using hindsight. Serena was the defending champ, Sharapova hadn't done much on tour at this point and was just 17.

Her match against Stosur came after a long injury time off and she wasn't even top 25, Andreescu was after pregnancy and Serena was 37 and she was not the favourite. Muguruza and the 2 Kerber losses as well weren't when she was at her peak. Stosur
 

Aussie Darcy

Bionic Poster
I guess we can't know for sure what the biggest upset was in terms of actual odds(and we all know the opinions of many posters here don't often reflect reality)

But I was in England during Wimbledon in 92, and read all odds(they were in the newspaper every day) and I'm certain Goran was at best, a slight favorite(remember we aren't talking about pre tournament odds - agassi was considered the real deal by the time of the final considering who he beat to get there). Ditto Becker over Curren in 85, by the time of the final, Becker was legit with bookies.
Stich over Becker and Ashe over Connors were much bigger upsets. Stich was actually a more obscure name in 91 than Becker was in 85 despite being ranked higher(Becker had won queens and was already somewhat of a sensation with the press when Wimbledon began that year, they even put him on center court for his first round match even though he was unseeded)

I would bet Edberg was a slight favorite over Chang(again we aren't talking pre tournament odds, I can't believe any follower of the game was truly shocked that he won that match)

I suspect the same with Kuerten in 97, I can't believe bruguera was anymore than a slight favorite in that final(his level of play was pretty low that year, he was a shadow of the player who won in 94)

I think Majoli over Hingis trumps any thing mentioned so far.
I thought of posting Majoli over Hingis but I went for Sharapova over Serena for a few reasons.

Majoli had won a number of Tier 1 titles. She'd made the last 2 French Open QF's before her win. She'd played and beaten Hingis before (7 months before the final at the 1996 YEC). She was also a top 10 player.

Sharapova however, was just 17, a relative unknown, outside the top 10, hadn't won anything about a Tier 3/WTA International tournament and had only played Serena once, having lost to her.

I think hindsight has blinded us on that one. If you evaluate it at the time of the tournament then the upset was definitely bigger for Sharapova over Majoli but if you look back now then you'd say Majoli.

Majoli never made another slam SF, never beat Hingis again and didn't win another title for almost 5 years after that slam victory.
Sharapova meanwhile, won 4 more slams, became #1, beat Serena again that year and is one of the most recognizable faces of the sport.

When Sharapova beat Serena it was deemed one of the greatest upsets in history.
 

ForumMember

Hall of Fame
Wawrinka beating Nadal in AO (though injury involved there)
Wawrinka beating Djokovic
Pat Cash beating Ivan Lendl (??) - I assume that Lendl would have been strong fav in that final. Ppl following Tennis that time may comment.
 

zep

Hall of Fame
I am only going to comment on this century. And in this century Wawrinka beating Nadal is the biggest upset, regardless of how the match unfolded. Nadal was 27-0 against Wawrinka before that match in sets won. It can't get any more one sided. I remember I wanted Wawrinka to win against Berdych as a Nadal fan, I was sure that Berdych would be much tougher in the final. Wawrinka beating Djokovic at RG15 is not even worth mentioning here. I fully expected a tough contest based on their previous slam matches. Plus clay was Wawrinka's most favorite surface and Djokovic's least and Djokovic had enormous pressure on him to win the career slam. I wasn't shocked at all with the result. Federer vs Del Potro at US Open 2009 was definitely a huge upset but Del Potro had pushed Federer to 5 sets just 3 months prior to that at RG and he was playing really well. I still expected him to lose given that it was his first final, but I'd definitely rank it below AO14 final.
 
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I thought of posting Majoli over Hingis but I went for Sharapova over Serena for a few reasons.

Majoli had won a number of Tier 1 titles. She'd made the last 2 French Open QF's before her win. She'd played and beaten Hingis before (7 months before the final at the 1996 YEC). She was also a top 10 player.

Sharapova however, was just 17, a relative unknown, outside the top 10, hadn't won anything about a Tier 3/WTA International tournament and had only played Serena once, having lost to her.

I think hindsight has blinded us on that one. If you evaluate it at the time of the tournament then the upset was definitely bigger for Sharapova over Majoli but if you look back now then you'd say Majoli.

Majoli never made another slam SF, never beat Hingis again and didn't win another title for almost 5 years after that slam victory.
Sharapova meanwhile, won 4 more slams, became #1, beat Serena again that year and is one of the most recognizable faces of the sport.

When Sharapova beat Serena it was deemed one of the greatest upsets in history.
Sharapova in 04 was a big upset, but I think majoli was a bigger upset for several reasons.

Hingis went into that match undefeated for the year! And majoli beat no one of note en route to
the final. While Sharapova beat Davenport in the semis, I think that alone made her a bit more formidable. And Serena was coming off an injury(missed 03 USO, 04 AO) hadn't won a major since previous year's Wimbledon so while she was a big favorite, there were at least some question marks around her.
 

ForumMember

Hall of Fame
I am only going to comment on this century. And in this century Wawrinka beating Nadal is the biggest upset, regardless of how the match unfolded. Nadal was 27-0 against Wawrinka before that match in sets won. It can't get any more one sided. I remember I wanted Wawrinka to win against Berdych as a Nadal fan, I was sure that Berdych would be much tougher in the final. Wawrinka beating Djokovic at RG15 is not even worth mentioning here. I fully expected a tough contest based on their previous slam matches. Plus clay was Wawrinka's most favorite surface and Djokovic's least and Djokovic had enormous pressure on him to win the career slam. I wasn't shocked at all with the result. Federer vs Del Potro at US Open 2009 was definitely a huge upset but Del Potro had pushed Federer to 5 sets just 3 months prior to that at RG and he was playing really well. I still expected him to lose given that it was his first final, but I'd definitely rank it below AO14 final.
Yes.. I totally agree. i was already celebrating no 14 before that match even started. In his earlier matches he had defeated wawrinka so comprehensively that it wasn't even expected to be a contest. Is there anyway we can find what were the odds before the start of the match?
On injury part while Nadal was definitely hampered with his back, but if Wawrinka had not put such strong resistance and showed nerves of playing in his first GS final, Nadal would have found a way to beat him. But Stanimal emerged in that match and nothing less than 100% Nadal would have tames him.
 

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
Two matches come to my mind:

1) Safin vs Sampras US Open 2000
Sampras was already four times US Open champion 12-2 in slam finals while Safin was relatively unknown and in his first slam final ever.
2) Wawrinka vs Nadal AO 2014
Not only was it Stans very first slam final but up to this point he had never won even a set against Nadal (0-26).

I would like to know the betting odds before those finals.
 

ABCD

Hall of Fame
Two matches come to my mind:

1) Safin vs Sampras US Open 2000
Sampras was already four times US Open champion 12-2 in slam finals while Safin was relatively unknown and in his first slam final ever.
2) Wawrinka vs Nadal AO 2014
Not only was it Stans very first slam final but up to this point he had never won even a set against Nadal (0-26).

I would like to know the betting odds before those finals.
Nadal was severely injured in AO2014 final and could not play (like Djokovic against Berdich W or Thiem RG or Wawrinka USO). Nadal wining that would be the biggest upset ever.
 

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
He was. I was there to know how he was considered, and he was the favorite.




No, as stated above. I saw it all as it happened, and Lendl was not the favorite--McEnroe was, and his play throughout that FO was more than enough evidence of that fact.




True.



...which did not make Lendl the French Open favorite. McEnroe was.
Hilarious...

Try reading the title of the thread, and the explanation.

Now try to process the difference between HEAVY favourite and favourite.

Now do you understand?

Safin vs Johansson. HEAVY favourite. Mac-Lendl, favourite.

There is a difference. You just have to catch it.
 
RG15 has to be the biggest one. Yes Wawrinka had already won a Slam, but nobody expected him to win another and beat Djokovic to do it.
There were more than enough reasons to think that Wawrinka has a chance in that final. At least it was clear that he is going to be a challenge, unlike Nadal and Murray. Djokovic was still the favorite, but that was by no means a shocking result.
 

RF-18

G.O.A.T.
Wawrinka was already a slam champ. Novak was favourite but not HEAVY favourite. Wawrinka had already beaten him at AO and pushed him several times more to 5 sets in slams. Check out the examples above, those are examples of heavy favourites... mostly.

I do admit that I considered adding it, but to me it just isn´t in the class of most of the matches listed.
Djokovic was definitely a heavy fav against Waw. It was a shocking loss.
 
Yes.. I totally agree. i was already celebrating no 14 before that match even started. In his earlier matches he had defeated wawrinka so comprehensively that it wasn't even expected to be a contest. Is there anyway we can find what were the odds before the start of the match?
On injury part while Nadal was definitely hampered with his back, but if Wawrinka had not put such strong resistance and showed nerves of playing in his first GS final, Nadal would have found a way to beat him. But Stanimal emerged in that match and nothing less than 100% Nadal would have tames him.
Wawrinka didn't play any better than he did in their matches in Shanghai or WTF 2013. If Nadal was in normal form (which he wasn't, probably due to injury. Hard to forget that 3 missed second serve returns in a row on break points) then it could be close for a few sets, but Nadal would have won like he did in their previous matches.
 

Sabrina

Semi-Pro
Wawrinka didn't play any better than he did in their matches in Shanghai or WTF 2013. If Nadal was in normal form (which he wasn't. Hard to forget that 3 missed second serve returns in a row on break points) then it could be close for a few sets, but Nadal would have won like he did in their previous matches.
That 2014 AO Final basically set Nadal back for about 3 years or so.
 

mika1979

Professional
The story goes that he was heavily partying before the finale.

Sounds realistic, considering how amateurish Safin was known to be sometimes.
I was at the final hired binoculars to check out the three stunners in his box. He even joked with the crowd that he was a little tired
 
That 2014 AO Final basically set Nadal back for about 3 years or so.
Yes. It was the loss which pretty much ended his prime. He was never the same player since then. For 3 long years he was totally off. And while he came back in 2017-2019 but it's still not his prime level.
 
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