With the Australian Open 2016 just on the horizon, we at ES take a look at 5 players who defied all odds to raise the trophy at Melbourne Park.
1: Chris O’Neil (1978)
She is the lowest ranked player ever to win the Australian open. This was the Australian’s only grand slam title. She defeated Betsy Nagelsen of USA 6-3 7-6 in the final. The shock of her victory can be perceived by the fact that she had failed to reach even the third round of a grand slam before becoming the champion. She was the last Australian woman to win the Australian open in the singles category.
Her career win-loss record was a poor 19-52.Her career spanned from 1972-1986 and since then she runs a tennis academy for youngsters in NSW.
2: Mark Edmondson (1976)
Mark Edmondson became the first unseeded man (ranked 212) to win the Australian open crown since its inception in 1905. On his way to the title he defeated first seed and much fancied Ken Rosewall in 4 sets. In the final he defeated John Newcombe 6-7,6-3,7-6,6-1 using his fierce attacking style of play. After winning the final, he got so emotional and nervous that he dropped his Australian Open trophy. Sadly for him, the then 21 year old player failed to make any major impact in the coming years.
Mark Edmondson remains the last Australian to win the Australian Open. He has an anti-hero image which makes him unpopular in the press. He was inducted into the Australian tennis hall of fame in 2007.
3: Thomas Johansson (2002)
With the top 5 seeds failing to reach past even the second round, this was a golden opportunity for the lower seeds. Thomas Johansson took this opportunity and won his only grand slam, the Australian Open defeating a much fancied Marat Safin 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 in the final.
Many consider johannson as a lucky winner since he didnt face even a single seeded player (top 16) until the final.
Johansson’s career was filled with injuries and the only other significant performance in his career was reaching semifinals of Wimbledon in 2005.
4: Stan Wawrinka (2014)
Everyone on the tour knew that Stan the man had the game to upset anyone oh his day. But few would have picked him to win a grand slam. But against all odds, the then no. 8 seeded Swiss, buoyed by his new coach Magnus Norman went on to win the Australian Open.
On his way to the Australian Open crown, he defeated Novak Djokovic (gunning for his 4th consecutive Australian open) in a 5 set thriller which is considered by many the best Australian open match ever. In the semi-final, he defeated the Czech in a very tightly contested match. In the final, he defeated a partially injured Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3.