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10 instances when a player survived a bagel in a Grand Slam final

Richard Norris Williams became the first male player to survive a bagel in a Grand Slam final
Neelabhra Roy

One of the most embarrassing and humiliating things faced by any tennis player is being bageled i.e. not winning a single game in a set. Over the years, there have been many eminent tennis players including the likes of Rod Laver, Steffi Graf, and Roger Federer who have been bageled.However, there have been many instances that a player has won a match despite being bageled or in some cases, even a Grand Slam. There have been many instances when a player won a Grand Slam title by ‘bagel’ing his/her opponent in the final but there have been exactly ten instances when a player won a Grand Slam title despite being bageled by his/her opponent in the final.

Here are ten such cases.#1. Richard Norris Williams vs Bill Johnston, 1916 US Open final

Richard Norris Williams and Bill Johnstone are both considered one of the finest American tennis players during the 1910s, sharing five Grand Slam titles between them. Both players had played a very exciting semi-final at the 1915 US Open when Johnston defeated Williams (who was the defending champion then) in five sets to reach his first Grand Slam final which he would win by defeating two-time champion Maurice McLoughlin in the final.One year later, Johnston and Williams would meet again at the US Open, this time in the final. Both players were yet to drop a set in the tournament and the match was expected to be a thrilling encounter. Johnston drew first blood by taking the first set 6-4 but Williams rebounded well by taking the second set by the same scoreline.However, Johnston came roaring back in the match by taking the third set 6-0. However, Williams did not back down and bounced right back into the match by taking the fourth set 6-2 before taking the fifth set 6-4 to claim his second US Open title. This was the first time that a player had won a Grand Slam final despite being bageled.

#2. Jean Borotra vs Rene Lacoste, 1924 French Open final

The Bounding Basque had to survive a bagel in the final en route to the French Open title in 1924

Jean Borotra and Rene Lacoste are two of the greatest French players of all-time and the greatest players of their time. Both of them were among the “Four Musketeers” who won 20 Grand Slam Singles titles and 23 Grand Slam Doubles titles during the 1920s and 1930s, and led France to six successive Davis Cup titles from 1927-1932.Known as the Bounding Basque, Borotra reached his first Grand Slam final at the 1924 French Open and was up against Lacoste (nicknamed the crocodile) who was also in his first Grand Slam final. The match was looking exciting but on the same time a little one-sided as a couple of decisive breaks handed Borotra the first two sets by the score of 7-5, 6-4.

However, Lacoste wasn’t finished yet and he bounced back into the match by bageling Borotra in the third set which was followed by winning the fourth set 7-5 to take the match to a fifth set.However, the Basque eventually triumphed over the crocodile as Borotra took the final set 6-2 to win the match and the title. However, the title does not officially count in Borotra’s Grand Slam tally as at that time, the French Open was only open to French nationals, not internationals.

#3. Nelly Landry vs Shirley Fry Irvin, 1948 French Open final

Nelly Landry won her only Grand Slam title by surviving a bagel in the final

Shirley Fry Irvin was one of the finest tennis players of the late 1940s and 1950s. Along with her doubles partner Doris Hart, Irvin dominated women’s tennis during the 1950s in both singles and doubles. She reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final aged only 15 and six years later, she reached her first Grand Slam final at the 1948 French Open after beating doubles partner and top seed Doris Hart in an exciting semi-final by the scoreline of 6-3, 4-6, 11-9.Irvin’s opponent in the final was third-seeded Frenchwoman Nelly Landry who was in her first Grand Slam final since the 1938 French Open. Landry began the match brilliantly and put herself in a commanding position by clinching the first set 6-2.However, Irvin bounced back in the match by thrashing Irvin 6-0 in the second set to level the match. Landry then gave a rebound of her own by bageling Irvin back in the third set to win her only Grand Slam title.

#4. Bob Falkenburg vs John Bromwich, 1948 Wimbledon final

Falkenburg won his only Grand Slam title after surviving a bagel in the final

After not being held for the most of the 1940s due to the second World War, the Wimbledon resumed in 1946 and some of the early post-World War Wimbledon finals were very exciting ones. One of them was the 1948 Wimbledon final where America’s Bob Falkenburg took on two-time Australian Open champion John Bromwich.While Bromwich was yet to drop a set in the tournament, Falkenburg did not have a similar path to the final as he had to get through a couple of tough matches in the third round and the quarter-finals where he was pushed to five and four sets respectively.Falkenburg, who was in his first ever Grand Slam final began well by taking the match 7-5 before Bromwich bageled him in the second set. Falkenburg restored the lead in the match by taking the third set 6-2 but Bromwich rebounded once again by taking the fourth set 6-3 to level the match.In the end, Falkenburg won his first and only Grand Slam title by winning the final set 7-5.

#5. Mervyn Rose vs Rex Hartwig, 1954 Australian Open final

Rose defeated his doubles partner to win his maiden Grand Slam title but not before being bageled by him in the final

Mervyn Rose and Rex Hartwig were one of Australia’s finest tennis players during the 1950s and both of them had a successful partnership in the doubles circuit with all five of Hartwig’s Men’s doubles titles coming while partnering Rose. However, during the 1954 Australian Open, they had to battle against one another to win their maiden Grand Slam singles title.It was a second Grand Slam singles final for Rose and Hartwig’s first. While Hartwig was having a rather comfortable tournament, not having dropped a set prior to the final, Rose had to go through a gruelling five-set encounter against top seed Ken Rosewall in the semi-finals to book his place in the final.In the final, Rose drew first blood by taking the first set 6-2 but Hartwig rebounded brilliantly by bageling Rose in the second set. However, that second set woke up the beast inside Rose and he won the match by winning the next two sets 6-4, 6-2, thus winning his first Grand Slam singles title.

#6. Rod Laver vs Roy Emerson, 1962 Australian Open final

Laver defeated his rival Ken Rosewall for the first time in a Grand Slam final but not before being bageled by him

Both Rod Laver and Roy Emerson are amongst the all-time greats in the history of the sport and have shared a fierce rivalry during their respective careers. During the 1962 Australian Open, both players were the top two seeds and at the peak of their careers and both reached the final which was a rematch of the final last year when Emerson beat Laver in four sets to win his first Grand Slam title.It was the third time both players met at a Grand Slam final and even though Laver was the more dominant one of the two during that time, he was yet to beat Emerson in a Grand Slam final, having lost to him in the 1961 US Open final as well.The match was looking to be very exciting as Laver scraped through Emerson to take the first set 8-6 but the latter came roaring back into the game by bageling him in the second set and it looked like Emerson would once again beat Laver.However, Laver held his nerve and stood his ground and came back strongly by winning the third set 6-4 before taking the fourth set 6-4 to win his second Australian Open title and achieve his first victory over Emerson in Grand Slam finals.

#7. Sue Barker vs Renata Tomanova, 1976 French Open final

Barker won her first and only Grand Slam final after surviving a bagel in the final

Sue Barker has been one of Great Britain’s top tennis players and was one of the finest players during her era. Barker attained a career-high world ranking of No.3 and also won a Grand Slam. However, this Grand Slam did not come in the easiest of fashions.The tournament was the 1976 French Open and Barker reached her first Grand Slam final after battling through three consecutive gruelling three-setters. In the final, Barker would face the then Australian open runner-up Renata Tomanova and had a good start to the match by taking the first set 6-2, thus making it the third consecutive time that Tomanova lost a set in a Grand Slam final by the score of 6-2.However, Tomanova fought back hard and staged a remarkable fightback to bagel Barker in the second set. Barker eventually took the third set 6-2 to defeat Tomanova and clinch her first and only Grand Slam title.

#8. Steffi Graf vs Monica Seles, 1995 US Open final

Steffi Graf won her fourth US Open title after surviving a huge scare from rival Monica Seles

Steffi Graf had a number of rivalries during her career but the fiercest of most would be her rivalry with Monica Seles during the early 1990s. Seles had already won eight Grand Slam titles before she was 19 and had already overtaken Graf in the WTA rankings and many expected her to be the greatest of all-time with the kind of form she was in before disaster struck for her.In 1993, Seles was stabbed in the shoulder by an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf and did not play tennis until 1995 and in the first Grand Slam that she played after recuperating, she reached the final where she would face Graf.It was the 1995 US Open and both players had been in terrific form with Graf dropping only one set prior to the final and Seles none. The first set of the final was a nail-biting one with Graf barely managing to hold her nerve to take the set in a tiebreak. Seles then made a fierce comeback by taking the second set 6-0, making it the first time that Steffi Graf was bageled in a Grand Slam final.However, Graf was in no mood to drop the ball and she rebounded brilliantly and took the third set 6-3 to win her fourth US Open title and 18th Grand Slam title.

#9. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario vs Monica Seles, 1998 French Open final

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won her third French Open after surviving a bagel from Monica Seles in the final

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Monica Seles were two of the most lethal young players in the 1990s and even though Seles lead their head-to-head rivalry 19-3, the duo played some very thrilling matches against one another. One such match was the 1998 French Open final where Sanchez Vicario was the fourth seed and Seles, the sixth seed.It was the first Grand Slam final between both players and the match looked very exciting from the very beginning as Sanchez Vicario took the first set in a tiebreak. However, Seles came roaring back in the game and took the second set 6-0.Sanchez Vicario didn’t seem to lose hope despite struggling in the second set and rebounded brilliantly by taking the third set 6-2 to win her third French Open title and fourth Grand Slam title.

#10. Gaston Gaudio vs Guillermo Coria, 2004 French Open final

Gaudio won his only Grand Slam after staging a remarkable comeback against compatriot Guillermo Coria

Argentina have produced a couple of notable tennis players over the years but the golden age of Argentine tennis was during the early 2000s when the likes of David Nalbandian, Gaston Gaudio, and Guillermo Coria were producing some brilliant performances on the Grand Slam circuit.The 2004 French Open witnessed a series of brilliant performances from all three as they all reached the semi-finals with an unseeded Gaudio beating the eighth-seeded Nalbandian to set up a final encounter with the third-seeded Coria.Gaudio began the match perfectly as he bageled Coria in the first set before taking the second set 6-3. However, Gaudio held his nerve and made one of the greatest comebacks in French Open history by taking the next three sets 6-4, 6-1, 8-6 to win his first Grand Slam title and become the first Argentinian male to win a Grand Slam title since Guillermo Vilas in the 1979 Australian Open.

Edited by Staff Editor

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