The top five Grand Slam upsets of 2015

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The final grand slam of the year culminated in New York City this month with Novak Djokovic capturing his tenth major title after flooring Roger Federer in a riveting four-set battle.

The tireless Serb underwent a stellar season and it did not come as a surprise to many that he ended up pocketing three of the year’s four majors.

Although Djokovic was not at the receiving end of any upsets, some of his rivals were not that fortunate. In this article, we rate the top five grand slam upsets of the year.


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5. Richard Gasquet beating Stanislas Wawrinka, Wimbledon Quarterfinal, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9

Having lifted his maiden French Open trophy barely a month earlier, the Swiss was set to slug it out with Richard Gasquet in a match widely described by many as a battle of one-handed backhanders.

The crowd expected to be treated with a dose of elegance which flourishes from the backhand wing of both the players. What they did not know though was that they were also in for a shocker.

Gasquet has shown glimpses in the past of the potential to punch above his weight. Only this time that punch would turn out to be a knockout blow for Wawrinka.

The Frenchman set the stage for an upset after bagging the first set, visibly doing a lot of damage with his backhand.

Wawrinka rallied to the grab the next two sets only for Gasquet to restore parity and take it into the fifth. Predominantly punctuated by craft, the match started to develop a physical aspect to it as it went deep into the final set.

Finally, Wawrinka buckled while serving at 9-10 to gift Gasquet with three match points, who duly obliged and converted from the third to complete a sensational win.

4. Kevin Anderson beating Andy Murray, US Open Fourth round, 7-6 6-3 6-7 7-6

Anderson came tantalisingly close of becoming a giant-slayer, after failing to capitalise on his two-sets-to-love lead over Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon fourth round.

That would not deter the South African from having another crack at it, taming a weary Andy Murray with his blazing groundstrokes and unnerving serve to open up a two-set lead.

Trying to hang on and figure out a solution to repel the onslaught, the Scott was rewarded for his grit and doggedness as he somehow saw off the third set on a tiebreaker.

Taking inspiration from his own effort of overturning a two-sets deficit only a week earlier, Murray remained neck-and-neck with his opponent in the fourth in a clear hope of a dip from Anderson.
That did not occur as Anderson cruised through the tiebreaker claiming it 7-0 to send the 2012 champion crashing out.

3. Fabio Fognini beating Rafael Nadal, US Open Third round, 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 

He was dispatched in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open by Tomas Berdych, saw his Roland Garros reign cruelly brought to an end by Novak Djokovic and suffered humiliation yet again in the second round of Wimbledon.

Surely, a lot of unthinkable things have happened to Rafael Nadal recently, almost always for the worse.

This time, it was Fabio Fognini’s turn to spring up another unthinkable result and inflict more pain on Nadal. The 32-year-old Italian dropped the first two sets to the Spaniard and was a break down in the third before going ballistic.

Firing a barrage of winners, 70 in total, Fognini turned the tables on Nadal to take the next two sets and force a decider.

A crazy fifth set which followed witnessed seven successive service breaks before Fognini finally ended the insanity to serve out the match and secured his third win of the season over Nadal.
It was the first time in 152 matches that Nadal had lost a grand slam match after taking a two sets to love lead.

2. Benoit Paire beats Kei Nishikori, US Open first round, 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6 6-4 

The Japanese number one was credited for breaking the stranglehold of the big four last year. His triumph over Novak Djokovic in the semi-final was construed by some as the ushering a new era, with the Japanese star probably set to claim profound recognition on the grand slam stages.

It is funny how things can change in the space of 12 months. Having laid down the marker in Flushing Meadows the previous season, the 25-year-old was sent packing in the first round by Benoit Paire.

After dropping the first set, Nishikori bounced back to claim the next two and had two match points at his disposal at 6-4 in the fourth set tiebreaker. Paire flushed them both and won four points on the bounce to prevail in the tiebreaker.

Distracted by the lost opportunities, Nishikori struggled to maintain his composure and conceded an early break in the final set. It proved decisive as a couple of flashing forehand winners and fiery first serves saw Paire off the finish line. For Nishikori, it meant a trek into the oblivion.

1. Andreas Seppi beats Roger Federer, Australian Open third round, 6-4 7-6 4-6 7-6 

Snapping at the heels of a second-place finish in the previous season and lifting his maiden title at Sydney a couple of weeks ago, Federer’s third round fixture against a man whom he had not lost to in ten previous matches appeared to be a lopsided one on paper. A routine waltz into the fourth round was on the cards.

Seppi, however, was not willing to follow the script.

Producing probably the best display of his career, the Italian had the 17-time major champion pegged back on the baseline throughout the course of the encounter.

A string of winners from either side of the court allowed him to take the first set. His cause was clearly helped by a nervy Federer who committed far too many errors than he would have liked.

Federer remained toe-to-toe with his opponent in the second and led 4-1 in the tiebreaker before Seppi rallied to scrap of six of the next seven points. The Swiss maestro now faced a daunting two sets to love deficit.

Realizing that the curtains were about to fall on his Australian Open campaign, the Basel native launched a spirited comeback to notch the third set. Neither player was willing to give an inch to the other in the fourth and another tiebreaker ensued which saw Federer again take an early advantage.

Seppi was up to the task once again as he overturned a 4-2 deficit to eventually close out the match with a stunning forehand pass. It consigned Federer to a first loss before the semifinal stage of the Australia Open in nine years.

Seeing the Italian making the victory signature on the camera and Federer sauntering off the court amid a farewell applaud from the crowd must have left many bookies and fans' mouths agape.

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Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal

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