The Beyond The Baseline awards are our look back at the best — and worst — of the tennis season. Today we look back at the biggest upsets of the season, led by Sergiy Stakhovsky outlasting Roger Federer in four sets in the second round at Wimbledon. Click here for our complete archive of year-end awards.
Sergiy Stakhovsky d. Roger Federer 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the second round at Wimbledon: Before this match, Stakhovsky was best known for his schtick of taking pictures of ball marks on court with his cell phone. But after this victory, he could finally tell his grandkids that he “kicked the butt of Roger Federer.” The Ukrainian journeyman, ranked No. 116, serve-and-volleyed his way past the defending Wimbledon champion in the second round to notch his first win over a top 20 player and just his second win at Wimbledon. With his first loss to a player ranked outside the top 100 since 2005, Federer’s record streak of Grand Slam quarterfinals ended at 36. When the BBC asked how he was able to pull it off, Stakhovsky kept it simple: “Magic.”
Victoria Duval d. Sam Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the first round at the U.S. Open: The 17-year-old American qualifier, playing in just her second Grand Slam, upended the 2011 U.S. Open champion with a surprising amount of poise.
Sloane Stephens d. Serena Williams 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the fourth round at the Australian Open: Higher-ranked and more established players rarely take advantage of the opportunity to knock off Williams at a major tournament, but not Stephens. How’s this for a stat: The 19-year-old, ranked 29th, won her first three service games without dropping a point. OK, yes, Stephens went on to lose the set, but she pounced when Williams’ back began to seize and could only puff serves maxing out at 80 mph. It was a career-making win and marked the beginning of one of the most significant feuds of the season.
Tommy Robredo d. Roger Federer 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round at the U.S. Open: The match, originally scheduled on Arthur Ashe Stadium, was moved to Louis Armstrong Stadium after a near-five-hour rain delay forced the USTA to reshuffle the schedule. It was a rare sight to see Federer play somewhere other than the No. 1 show court at any stadium — and he wasn’t out there too long, thanks to a straight-set defeat to the 31-year-old Spaniard. Federer had been 10-0 against Robredo, but he came out flat. After three rounds of flawless tennis, the errors that marked his U.S. Open lead-up were back and the loss robbed everyone of the much-anticipated quarterfinal showdown between Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Grigor Dimitrov d. Novak Djokovic 7-6 (6), 6-7 (8), 6-3 in the second round at the Madrid Open: After storming back to take the second set 10-8 in the tiebreaker, Djokovic looked poised to run away with the match. Dimitrov was cramping and had a poor history of closing out top-ranked players. But Dimitrov was able to fight through his physical issues to earn his first win over a reigning No. 1.
Michelle Larcher de Brito d. Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 in the second round at Wimbledon: If not for Federer’s loss to Stakhovsky, de Brito’s stunning win over Sharapova would have been the headline story from Wimbledon’s Wacky Wednesday. De Brito, a former prodigy from of the same academy that produced Sharapova, came in as a qualifier ranked No. 131. Sharapova struggled with her footing and tumbled to a loss.
Horacio Zeballos d. Rafael Nadal 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-4 in the final at the VTR Open: After the season he had, it’s easy to forget that in Nadal’s first tournament back from his seven-month injury layoff, he fell to the No. 73-ranked Zeballos of Argentina. Still rusty and struggling with his rhythm, Nadal didn’t look like the man who would go on to win 10 of his next 12 tournaments.
Camila Giorgi d. Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the third round at the U.S. Open: For the second straight major, Wozniacki lost to a player ranked outside the top 100. She lost to 196th-ranked Petra Cetkovska at Wimbledon and here to a qualifier from Italy ranked 136th. Giorgi absolutely zoned for the duration of their match. To see the talented but inconsistent Giorgi play at that level for a full match on a big stage was the shocker.
Lauren Davis d. Svetlana Kuznetsova 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in qualifying and 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in main draw in Toronto: Beat her once, credit to you. Beat her twice, and we have to start asking some questions. In one of the weirdest twists of fate this season, the two-time Grand Slam champion lost to No. 83 Davis in the final round of qualifying at the Rogers Cup and then, after Kuznetsova got into the draw as a lucky loser, drew the 20-year-old in the first round of the tournament and lost again.
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci d. Venus and Serena Williams 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open: No. 1-ranked Errani and Vinci are the best doubles team on the circuit, but everyone knows that Venus and Serena are the team to beat when they pair up at the majors. The sisters have won 22 doubles titles at the Slams and had never lost to the Italians. On top of that, they beat them 6-3, 6-1 just a few months earlier at the U.S. Open.