The Australian Open is always a tricky Grand Slam to feature in as it takes place two weeks after the off-season with players just getting used to the new season. Over the years top players have complained about its place in the tennis calendar as it takes place right at the start of the season. With players finding it hard to get acclimatized to the weather in Melbourne, we do an Australian Open Review on Unpredictable Champions in the last 2 decades.
Petr Korda: 1998
Czechoslovakian Petr Korda shocked the world by overwhelming then World No.1 Marcelo Rios in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in one of the most lopsided finals at Melbourne.
Becoming a crowd favourite all thanks to her scissors kick move following his wins, he was at the end of fans ire after testing positive for nandrolone, a banned substance.
He claimed that his extremely thin stature was the reason behind him taking steroids as he felt that he was being overpowered by the big guys on court.
But, his lean frame excuse wasn’t liked by his followers at all and almost Petr Korda had taken an unceremonial exit from the game.
Thomas Johansson: 2002
One of the most unexpected champions in Australian Open history – Swede Thomas Johansson overcame Russian Marat Safin in four sets to become the first Swede to win the Australian Open in a decade (Stefan Edberg, 1992).
Not progressing past the Third Round before his astonishing run in Melbourne, he was went unnoticed at the Australian Open before this title. The Linköping native’s run to the Australian Open crown came practically out of nowhere, as he has only appeared in two major quarterfinals before, both at the US Open in 1998 and 2000.
In what seemed like a match where Marat Safin was exhausted and was clueless about how to go about playing Johansson, full credit should be given to the Swede who made the most of this slip and won his maiden and only Grand Slam title.
To date, he remains one of the most unexpected winners of the Australian Open.
Marat Safin: 2005
The 2 time Grand Slam Champion is considered by many as one of the most talented players to have not succeeded on the ATP Tour, courtesy his unpredictable behaviour. Not even Safin himself would know what side would appear on court – one that would just blow anyone away or the self-destruct one.
Coming into his second successive final in Melbourne, Safin lost to Roger Federer in 2004 and managed beating the Swiss in the Semi-finals. Safin hit an amazing lob match when he was match point down and went on to beat Federer in 5 sets.
In a match lasting for four and a half hours, Safin next came up against home favourite Lleyton Hewitt in the finals. Following what was a dismal opening set by the Russian, he soon found form and swept aside Hewitt. There were moments when even Hewitt acknowledged his opponent by saying ‘Too Good’ during the match.
At least he got rid of the ‘One Slam Wonder’ tag!
Stan Wawrinka: 2014
Novak Djokovic was the three time defending champion going into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open where he faced Stan Wawrinka. In what is regarded as one of the best Australian Open Semi-finals, Wawrinka overcame a very resilient Djokovic 9-7 in the final set.
Seeded 8th, Wawrinka next faced 7th seeded Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic , who came into this match following a win over 3rd seed David Ferrer. Winning the match in four sets, this match saw three sets going to the tie-break with the Swiss coming out on top.
The final was a rather anti-climax affair with Spaniard Rafael Nadal feeling under the weather and Wawrinka made the most of it, winning his maiden Grand Slam.