American teen Sloane Stephens contested her first grand slam semifinal on Thursday when she met world No. 1 and defending champion Victoria Azarenka. The 19-year-old earned her place in the final four with a stunning defeat of red-hot tournament favourite Serena Williams in the quarterfinals.
Stephens’ victory inspired australianopen.com to look through the archives and compile a list of the 11 biggest upsets in the women’s singles competition in the past 10 years at Melbourne Park.
2013: (29) Sloane Stephens d (3) Serena Williams, quarterfinals, 3-6 7-5 6-4
Growing up, 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens had posters of Serena Williams on her bedroom wall. In reaching her first career grand slam quarterfinal at Australian Open 2013, the rising talent was drawn to meet her idol. Rather than being overwhelmed by the occasion, Stephens left Williams, who was favoured to win a sixth Australian Open crown, stunned. The big-hitting teen showed no fear as she ended Williams’ 21-match winning streak that dated back to August 2012.
2013: Kimiko Date-Krumm d (12) Nadia Petrova, first round, 6-2 6-0
Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm rewrote the history books with her first round win against 12th seed Nadia Petrova. At 42, Date-Krumm became the oldest women in the Open era to win a match at the tournament. Incredibly, it was her first main draw match win at the tournament since 1996. Date-Krumm, a former world No.4 and Australian Open semifinalist, returned to professional tennis in 2008 after a 12-year retirement.
2012: Sorana Cirstea d (6) Samantha Stosur, round one, 7-6(2) 6-3
Romania Sorana Cirstea, the world No.59, broke Australian hearts when she bundled home-grown hero Samantha Stosur out of the 2012 tournament. Expectations were high for Stosur, ranked No.6, going into the tournament after she broke through to win her maiden grand slam singles title at the preceding 2011 US Open. Stosur was considered a genuine chance to become the first Australian winner since Chris O’Neil’s triumph in 1978, but Cirstea quickly put an end to that.
2010: Maria Kirilenko d (14) Maria Sharapova, round one, 7-6(4) 3-6 6-4
Russian beauty Maria Sharapova returned to Melbourne Park for the 2010 Open for the first time since her 2008 title run. She was unable to defend her title in 2009 due to a shoulder injury. Her return was short-lived though, stunned by compatriot Maria Kirilenko in three tough sets. In marked the first time since 2003 that Sharapova had lost in the first round of a grand slam. It remains one of only three first round defeats the four-time grand slam champion has had in her 35 major tournaments.
2009: (WC) Jelena Dokic d (11) Caroline Wozniacki, round three, 3-6 6-1 6-2
Australian wildcard Jelena Dokic was the story of the 2009 tournament. After years in the tennis wilderness and ranked 189, Dokic stormed through the draw to make her first quarterfinal since Wimbledon 2002. She beat up-and-coming star Caroline Wozniacki, the 11th seed, in the third round, and her unlikely quarterfinal run also included wins against 17th seed Anna Chakvetadze in the second round and 29th seed Alisa Kleybanova in the fourth round, where Dokic triumphed 8-6 in the final set. It took world No. 3 and eventual finalist Dinara Safina to stop her in three tough sets in the quarterfinals.
2009: Carla Suarez Navarro d (6) Venus Williams, round two, 2-6 6-3 7-5
Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro was a surprise quarterfinalist in her maiden Australian Open appearance in 2009. Her biggest scalp was sixth seed Venus Williams, who she beat in three sets in the second round. Suarez Navarro, the world No.46, fought back from a 5-2 deficit in the final set, saving a match point in the process as she reeled off five straight games to win the match. Suarez Navarro again proved to be a dangerous player at Melbourne Park this year, upsetting seventh seed Sara Errani in the first round.
2008: Casey Dellacqua d (18) Amelie Mauresmo, round three, 3-6 6-4 6-4
After five consecutive first round losses at the Australian Open, Casey Dellacqua finally broke through for her maiden main draw win in 2008. The left-hander then upset 15th seed Patty Schynder in the second round, and continued her giant-killing run by knocking former world No. 1 and 2006 Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo out of the tournament in the third round. Her run was eventually halted by world No.3 Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round.
2007: Serena Williams d (1) Maria Sharapova, final, 6-1 6-2
On the comeback from injury, Serena Williams entered the 2008 Open ranked 81 in the world. She was criticised in the media as being unfit, and external expectations were low as she entered the tournament. But the American stunned the tennis world as she fought her way through the draw, including a win against fifth seed Nadia Petrova in the third round. Williams emphatically answered her critics in the final, thrashing world No.1 Maria Sharapova to become only the second unseeded woman to win the Australian Open.
2007: Lucie Safarova d (2) Amelie Mauresmo, fourth round, 6-4 6-3
Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo was bundled out of the 2007 Open by unheralded Czech Lucie Safarova, who was ranked 70 at the time and competing in the tournament for the second time. The win helped the big-hitting Safarova break into top 50 for the first time, and remains her best grand slam result to date.
2006: Tsvetana Pironkova d (10) Venus Williams, first round, 2-6 6-0 9-7
In her first grand slam main draw match, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova stunned 10th seed Venus Williams in the first round, holding her nerve to serve out a 9-7 victory in a tense final set. Williams, a former world No.1 and Australian Open finalist, had earlier served for the match at 5-3 in the deciding set. Pironkova could not back up her win in the second round, where she was defeated by American Laura Granville in straight sets.
2003: Marlene Weingartner d (3) Jennifer Capriati, first round, 6-2 6-7(6) 6-4
Two-time defending champion Jennifer Capriati was looking comfortable when leading 6-2 4-1 in her first round match in 2003, with her opponent, Marlene Weingartner, ranked 98 and playing on a centre court at a grand slam in the first time in her career. No matter: the German fought back and ended up sensationally sending Capriati home. It was the first and only time in the Open era that the defending women’s champion has lost in the first round at the tournament.