Roger Federer v David Ferrer, Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova: What are the most surprising head-to-head records?
Roger Federer v David Ferrer, Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic v Gael Monfils. What are the most surprising head-to-head tennis records? Dan Evans saw his head-to-head record against Yoshihito Nishioka fall to 0-6 after losing in Seoul, but there have been far more one-sided rivalries. Rafael Nadal and Djokovic both hold 18-0 records against players.
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Remember when a 17-year-old Sharapova beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final? Williams didn’t forget it.
“The worst thing Maria Sharapova could have done was to win Wimbledon at age 17 against a woman who was trying to win her third straight," said former world No. 33 Mary Carillo on 'The GOAT: Serena' podcast.
"That was Maria's biggest mistake. At the time she had no pressure, had great poise and was going for her shots. I don't think Serena has still gotten over it."
Sharapova would also beat Williams at the WTA Finals later in 2004, but that was it.
Williams won every other meeting, stretching from 2005 to their last match at the 2019 US Open, a 6-1 6-1 trouncing that confirmed just how one-sided the rivalry had become. It was so one-sided that it has even been questioned if it was a rivalry. Sharapova conceded as much after losing her eighth straight match to Williams. "I think I'll need to win a couple more matches before it becomes a true rivalry," said the Russian.
Few would surely have predicted that it would be such a one-sided head-to-head record after their 2004 meeting at Wimbledon.
Novak Djokovic 18-0 Gael Monfils
Djokovic’s 18-0 record against Monfils is tied for the best unbeaten head-to-head record on the ATP Tour in the Open era along with Rafael Nadal’s 18-0 record vs Richard Gasquet.
Why is Djokovic’s record against Monfils so surprising?
Monfils has been as high as No. 6 in the rankings and has reached two Grand Slam semi-finals. He has hit some good patches of form during his career, including in 2020 when he won back-to-back titles in Rotterdam and Montpellier for the loss of just one set. In his next tournament in Dubai he reached the semis without losing a set and looked primed to finally get his first win over Djokovic. But he was unable to convert three match points in the second set and suffered a painful 2-6 7-6(8) 6-1 loss.
Novak Djokovic und Gael Monfils
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He may never get a better chance to end his winless streak against Djokovic, which stretches from their first meeting at the 2005 US Open to Madrid earlier this year (although a 17-year-old Monfils did beat a 16-year-old Djokovic on the Challenger Tour in 2004).
Djokovic also owns an impressive 25-3 record against Tomas Berdych, a four-time Slam semi-finalist who got to No. 4 in the rankings.
Nadal vs Gasquet is also 18-0 but perhaps not as surprising given their playing styles and the way they match up. Gasquet has only won three sets against Nadal.
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Roger Federer 17-0 David Ferrer
Were it not for the Big Four there would be several players who surely would have scooped up multiple Grand Slam titles in their careers, and Ferrer is probably one of them.
The former world No. 3 made five majors semi-finals (Australian Open and US Open twice each, French Open once) and also the final of the French Open in 2013.
Which makes it odd that he could never get a win over Federer, even the five times they played on clay, which was Ferrer’s preferred surface.
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Victoria Azarenka 10-1 Angelique Kerber
Azarenka and Kerber are both former world No. 1’s and multiple Grand Slam champions (Azarenka has won two and Kerber three), but the rivalry has been one-sided.
Azarenka has always almost got the better of Kerber, beating her in straight sets in three of their last four matches. Both have been solid and consistent players but Azarenka has managed to find that bit extra against Kerber.
The only occasion when Kerber came out on top was on her way to winning the Australian Open in 2016.
Azarenka also has a 10-1 head-to-head record against Sam Stosur.
Roger Federer 21-3 Andy Roddick
How many more Grand Slam titles would Roddick have won without Federer around?
Roddick had a huge serve and a powerful game but every time he ran into Federer at a Grand Slam he couldn’t get past him. Federer and Roddick played at least once each year from 2001-12, and Federer was a master at absorbing and neutralising Roddick’s game.
They met eight times at Grand Slams and Federer won every time, including four finals and three semi-finals. Their meetings at Wimbledon particularly stand out. They clashed in three Wimbledon finals and in two of them (2004 and 2009) Roddick won the first set, but went on to lose the match.
Roddick did win his last contest against Federer in Miami in 2012 but that was scant consolation for the previous pain.
Andy Roddick et Roger Federer - Wimbledon 2009
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Dominik Hrbaty vs the Big Four
Former world No. 12 Hrbaty is one of only three players, along with Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt, to have beaten Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal the first time he played each of them.
Not only that, but he owns an impressive head-to-head record against the Big Four.
Against Federer he is 2-1, beating him at the Paris Masters in 2000 and when he was world No. 1 in Cincinnati in 2004. Against Nadal he is 3-1, beating him twice in Auckland (2004 final and 2005 first round) and also in Lyon in 2003. He beat Djokovic in their first meeting on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2004 and he also dished out a defeat to Murray in their only meeting at the Paris Masters in 2006.
What is it about Hrbaty that enabled him to pull off such surprise results?
Roger Federer (R) with Dominik Hrbaty
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Former world No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov also had troubles against Hrbaty, who owned a 9-4 winning record against the two-time Grand Slam champion.
“If I’m looking at the draw and see Hrbaty on the way I’m going, ‘Oh my God! How can I avoid this guy?’” Kafelnikov explained. “Dominik would lose to anybody, but when he played against me, he always brought his best game. That was really painful for me.
“I was the No. 1 player in the world at the time, but Dominik’s game was such a solid game that he had every answer to all my shots. If I was hitting the ball hard, the ball was coming back twice as hard. That stuff was driving me nuts.”
Simona Halep 3-1 Ashleigh Barty
Four matches is not a huge sample size, but it is notable that Halep had so much success against Barty.
Barty had a good record against high-ranked players, particularly towards the end of her career. But three of her four meetings against Halep she lost in straight sets, most recently in Madrid in 2019.
The only win for Barty was in Sydney in 2019 when Halep was ranked No. 1 in the world.
Roger Federer 23-3 Stan Wawrinka
For a player who was so good, Wawrinka did not have much joy against Federer.
He beat his fellow Swiss in a couple of big moments in the French Open quarter-finals 2015 and Monte Carlo final in 2014, but that was about it.
It was a rivalry where most of the matches came at the biggest events and Federer almost always won. There were 12 meetings at Masters 1000 level (10-2 for Federer), eight at Grand Slams (7-1 for Federer) and two at the ATP Finals (2-0 for Federer).