The first week of a major is all about upsets: Which highly seeded players won't survive the first few rounds? During the first week of this year's U.S. Open, we're counting down the top five most shocking upsets at Flushing Meadows.
2008, Second Round: No. 188 Julie Coin d. No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Tennis is a numbers game, but Coin refused to be defined by the quantum disparity in digits posed by rankings and oddsmakers.
Residing 187 spots below Ivanovic on the WTA ladder, the 25-year-old former math major at Clemson confounded logic to become the lowest-ranked woman to ever beat a world No. 1. The qualifier won 10 straight points in the third set as Ivanovic became the first top women’s seed in the Open era to fall before the third round of the Open.
Ivanovic, who played with a sore thumb that limited her pre-tournament practice, was tight at times, as her service toss sometimes strayed wide to the right and she lost the range on her favored flat forehand on critical points. Conceding that her throat narrowed and wrist revolted, Ivanovic said the quality of Coin's shots surprised her.
"I was nervous going onto the court because I never saw her play before so I didn't know what to expect. I thought I can slowly get into the match, and she played completely different than I expected," Ivanovic said. "She was serving extremely well and hitting very powerful shots. So I really struggled and made too many unforced errors and my serve was not working really well. Obviously, it's very frustrating, because I know I can play so much better. This was very, very disappointing loss for me, but it's something that I have to accept."
How shocking was this upset? Consider that a couple weeks earlier, Coin was swept in straight sets by No. 423-ranked Irish woman Kelly Liggan in the opening round of qualifying for the Bronx Challenger played on public park courts. Weeks later, Coin found herself playing the second main-draw major match of her life on the largest Grand Slam court in the world. The Frenchwoman, who said she was contemplating quitting the pro circuit after the 1998 season ended, crafted a remarkable upset and offered sound reasoning for her calm on court.
"I guess with what I did also in the States, playing college, it would be easier for me to find a job maybe in the States because I was playing for Clemson and I got a bachelor's [degree] and everything," said Coin, a three-time all American and 2004 ACC Player of the Year. "So I'm not lost, I think."
She grew up in the same area of France as Amelie Mauresmo, and the pair once shared a junior coach, but Coin wasn't exactly brimming with confidence in past matches as an underdog.
"When I was younger, to beat a girl just one ranking higher than I was, it took me like six months every time because I was like, 'She's better ranked than me so she's better,' " said Coin, who would lose to Mauresmo in the third round.
Serving much bigger than her 5'8" size suggested, Coin kept her composure, winning the battle between the ears to complete a historic upset between the lines.
"I think what I experienced so far is girls, when they play against higher-ranked players, they have nothing to lose so they go for their shots," Ivanovic said. "Many times they play matches of their life...They feel no pressure and they're so relaxed to play these kind of shots. She managed to stay calm and to play the same until the end."