The early exit of fan-favourites from Wimbledon prompts the author to look up epic sports upsets.
Fans cursed in HD, broke TVs, crushed soda cans and shovelled their lawns out after the southpaw Spaniard, Federer Express and Siren Sharapova tapped out on the grass court to virtual unknowns ranked 135, 116 and 131.
But sport is full of Goliaths falling. While some of the Davids become giants themselves, others don’t. Nevertheless, they all make great stories, like these —
Thirty years ago, a motley crew of Indians went all the way to the finals in a stumbling run, only to find themselves pitted against West Indies, the reigning champions. Batting first, they were ripped apart by Roberts, Marshall, Garner and Holding. Kris Srikkanth’s belligerent 38 helped push the score to 183. But when India got the ball, the tables turned, as wildly as Balwinder Sandhu’s inswinger, that butted Gordon Greenidge’s wickets from a mile away. Mohindar Amarnath was terribly miserly with the runs, conceding only 12 in 7 overs and hogging 3 wickets. Then Kapil Dev took that incredible catch and well…India was happy, everyone else was upset, and a lot of babies were named Kapil that year.
Once upon a time, a German teenager dreamed of winning the Wimbledon. So he went ahead and won it. Boris Becker stormed through the tournament, bringing a wholly different arsenal to the game. Eighth-seeded Kevin Curren suspected he was walking into pitched battle when the boy with blonde lashes sent his first scorching serve across the net. When Becker flung himself at volleys and baseline shots, he as good as threw in the towel. After three hours and 18 minutes, the teenager demolished one wall for Germany. It would take five years more for another one to fall.
Debutants Senegal’s victory over France in the 2002 World Cup is considered among the biggest upsets in football history. Roger Lemerre’s men walked into the first match a little late; they were looking up Senegal on the map. The French played by the book and at times, dozed off over it. About 30 minutes into the game, however, Bouba Dioup smartly pushed one through the French goalpost. And all the king’s horses and Thierry Henry couldn’t put France — champions of the 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euro Cup — together again.
Mike Tyson’s makeover
In 1990, ‘Buster’ Douglas, who, by winning the last six bouts in a spotted career, found himself in the Tokyo Dome, facing the tattooed, metal-toothed Mike Tyson. Mike was, well, Mike — undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, bad boy inside out. After recently knocking out Carl ‘The Truth’ Williams in 93 seconds, Mike thought the “Buster” fight was going to be a puppy of a bout. In the other corner, Douglas was having problems. He had the flu, his friend was suffering a severe kidney ailment and his mother had died 23 days before. He poured all of that angst into Mike’s face, and knocked him out in the 10th round. One of the hardest hitters in heavyweight history had a knuckle sandwich for supper.
Dream team, creamed
Michael Jordan. Magic Johnson. Scottie Pippen. Larry Bird. Legends, all in one team, gunning for Olympic Gold. But before they played other nations, the all-star cast had to play some local ‘scrimmages’, with American college teams. Cream of the crop they were, but the college boys beat them by 8 points. The embarrassed stars, until then a disjointed herd of prickly egos, pulled up their socks and went on to win gold, beating opponents by a whopping 44-point average. Oh, and they played the college team a few days later. Beat them by over 100 points.