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Biggest upsets of the 2015 US Open

By Neil Schlecht
Monday, September 14, 2015

Roberta Vinci def. Serena Williams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. This one dwarfs all the others. That Vinci, the unseeded 32-year-old who’d never made a Slam semi before, never won as many as five games in a set against a dominant No. 1 Williams, would pull off the shocking upset when Serena was just two matches away from the Grand Slam is, well, indescrivibile – as Vinci put it, indescribable. This one vaults into the sporting canon, up there with the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s 1980 “Miracle on Ice” win over the Russians; Buster Douglas’ prize fight surprise against Mike Tyson; Villanova’s 1985 Final Four upset of dynastic Georgetown; and Joe Namath and the New York Jets upending the Baltimore Colts in 1969. As improbable as they come.

Fabio Fognini def. Rafael Nadal, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Even though the flashy, fiery Italian had twice beaten Nadal earlier this year and Nadal was in danger of not winning a major for the first time in a decade, this third-rounder was still a shocker. Coming in, Nadal was 151-and-ZERO in Slams when he had won the first two sets. A routine match turned into a late-night, five-set thriller, as Fognini suddenly began to play out-of-his-mind hard-court tennis, slapping high-voltage winners all over the court, stunning Nadal and the crowd that stayed in Arthur Ashe Stadium past 1 a.m.

Kevin Anderson def. Andy Murray, 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6. The lanky, 6-foot-8 South African had tried seven times to reach a major quarterfinal, and seven times he had been stopped just short, in the fourth round. Against Murray, the No. 3 seed who won the US Open in 2012, it seemed as though the stoic Anderson would once again try but fail. An agitated Murray began to claw his way back into it in the third set in Louis Armstrong Stadium, but Anderson held his nerve and kept bombing serves (25 aces) and smacking winners (he would hit an astounding 81). The South African bageled Murray in the fourth-set breaker, 7-0, to end his seven-matching losing streak at this stage.

Petra Cetkovska def. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6. Ranked No. 149 and playing in just her third match of the year after being sidelined with a potentially career-ending hip injury, the 30-year-old Czech played a night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time. Against last year’s finalist Caroline Wozniacki, Cetkovska faced four match points and swatted them all away with clean, fearless winners. After three hours, she then blew away the Dane in the tiebreak to complete the tournament’s first huge upset in the women’s draw.

Johanna Konta def. Garbine Muguruza, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2. In another David vs. Goliath scenario, Konta, a tall Brit by way of Australia ranked No. 97, slayed the even taller Muguruza of Spain, outlasting the ninth seed in a match that lasted a women's record three hours, 23 minutes on Court 17. Muguruza was the runner-up at Wimbledon only two months ago; Konta had only once made it out of the first round at a Slam. The surprising Konta then followed it up with another upset, a straight-sets win over the No. 18 seed, Andrea Petkovic, and tested No. 5 Petra Kvitova, becoming one of the new faces of the women’s game.

Benoit Paire def. Kei Nishikori, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. Paire, a 6-foot-5 Provence native with a stylish game, had never done much at a major, exiting before the fourth round at every one he’d played. The 41st-ranked player drew last year’s finalist, Nishikori – this year the No. 4 seed – in the opening round and shocked the Japanese star in five grueling sets, even saving two match points in the fourth-set tiebreak.  

Steve Johnson-Sam Querrey def. Bob Bryan-Mike Bryan, 7-6, 5-7, 6-3. The unseeded American team shocked the doubles legends, the Bryan Brothers, the top seeds and winners of 16 Slams, including multiple wins at all four majors, in the first round. The surprise win guaranteed that the Bryans would not win a major for the first time since 2004 – joining Rafael Nadal in that elite club. Johnson and Querrey continued their winning ways all the way to the semis, losing to Jamie Murray and John Peers in a third-set tiebreak.

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