Andy Murray and The Worst Upsets of the Year

On Tuesday in Montreal, Andy Murray played an ugly, listless match against world #35 Kevin Anderson, losing 6-3 6-1.  While Murray has played some solid matches this year and is in no immediate danger of losing his top-four ranking, the Anderson loss is hardly the first disaster of his season.  Back in Indian Wells and Miami, he managed to lose to Donald Young and Alex Bogomolov in successive matches.  Ouch.

Using my rankings and match projection system, I’ve generated win probabilities for every ATP match of the season.  Combined with match outcomes, that allows us to find the upsets that were least expected on that surface, at that time.

Pre-match, my system gave Anderson a 16.3% chance of beating Murray–only a smidge better than Dodig’s 14.4% against Nadal.  (My system has never given the South African much credit; his hard-court ranking right now is #58.)  In fact, Anderson was the 4th-biggest underdog going into the 2nd round, ahead only of Dodig, Michael Russell, and Vasek Pospisil.

As it turns out, Anderson’s victory was the 14th-biggest upset win of the ATP season.  (I took out retirements and “comeback players,” like Fernando Gonzalez and Tommy Haas, whose rankings aren’t very predictive.)  That’s 14 out of nearly 1,700.

But, as you might guess, 14th-best of the season isn’t enough to be 1st with Murray on the losing end.  The Murray loss to Young in March is the biggest upset of the year–Donald entered the match with an 8.6% chance of winning.  The Bogomolov match comes in 4th overall; the American had a 10.1% chance before play began.

Edit: This is what I get for writing a draft the night before!  Dodig’s upset victory comes in tied for #10 on the season, pushing Murray/Anderson down one more spot on the list.  Nadal will go home having suffered the biggest upset of the Rogers Cup, though he played far and away better than Murray did to achieve the same outcome.

The biggest upsets of the year

I couldn’t possibly give you those numbers without following through with a complete table.  Here are the 36 matches where the winner entered the match with less than a 20% chance of winning.  This list is through last week’s matches, so it doesn’t yet show Murray’s latest meltdown and Dodig’s shocker.

(This site doesn’t show wide tables very well; click here for a clearer version.)

P(UPSET)  WINNER                 LOSER               TOURNEY          SCORE
 8.6%     Donald Young           Andy Murray         Indian Wells     7-6(4) 6-3
 9.4%     Bernard Tomic          Robin Soderling     Wimbledon        6-1 6-4 7-5
 9.7%     Jimmy Wang             Igor Kunitsyn       Newport          4-6 7-5 6-2
10.1%     Alex Bogomolov         Andy Murray         Miami            6-1 7-5
11.6%     Stephane Robert        Tomas Berdych       French Open      3-6 3-6 6-2 6-2 9-7
13.1%     Milos Raonic           Mikhail Youzhny     Australian Open  6-4 7-5 4-6 6-4
13.8%     Denis Kudla            Grigor Dimitrov     Newport          6-1 6-4
14.0%     James Ward             Stanislas Wawrinka  Queen's Club     7-6(3) 6-3
14.1%     Federico del Bonis     Florian Mayer       Stuttgart        6-2 6-3
14.4%     Jo-Wilfried Tsonga     Rafael Nadal        Queen's Club     6-7(3) 6-4 6-1               

P(UPSET)  WINNER                 LOSER               TOURNEY          SCORE
15.0%     Jan Hernych            Thomaz Bellucci     Australian Open  6-2 6-7(11) 6-4 6-7(3) 8-6
15.2%     Nikolay Davydenko      Rafael Nadal        Doha             6-3 6-2
15.6%     Andrey Kuznetsov       Marcos Baghdatis    Casablanca       6-4 4-6 6-4
16.4%     Flavio Cipolla         Andy Roddick        Madrid Masters   6-4 6-7(7) 6-3
16.6%     Lukas Rosol            Jurgen Melzer       French Open      6-7(4) 6-4 4-6 7-6(3) 6-4
16.8%     Antonio Veic           Nikolay Davydenko   French Open      3-6 6-2 7-5 3-6 6-1
17.0%     Sergei Bubka Jr.       Daniel Gimeno       Doha             6-0 6-3
17.1%     Leonardo Mayer         Marcos Baghdatis    French Open      7-5 6-4 7-6(6)
17.6%     Ivan Dodig             Robin Soderling     Barcelona        6-2 6-4
17.6%     Michael Yani           Dudi Sela           Newport          7-6(5) 6-3                   

P(UPSET)  WINNER                 LOSER               TOURNEY          SCORE
17.7%     Frank Dancevic         Feliciano Lopez     Johannesburg     6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(8)
17.8%     Alexander Dolgopolov   Robin Soderling     Australian Open  1-6 6-3 6-1 4-6 6-2
17.9%     James Ward             Samuel Querrey      Queen's Club     3-6 6-3 6-4
17.9%     Jan Hernych            Sergey Stakhovsky   Halle            6-3 6-7(5) 7-6(8)
18.2%     Jan Hernych            Denis Istomin       Australian Open  6-3 6-4 3-6 6-2
18.3%     Jo-Wilfried Tsonga     Roger Federer       Wimbledon        3-6 6-7(3) 6-4 6-4 6-4
19.0%     Milos Raonic           Fernando Verdasco   San Jose         7-6(6) 7-6(5)
19.0%     Lukasz Kubot           Gael Monfils        Wimbledon        6-3 3-6 6-3 6-3
19.2%     Federico del Bonis     Sergey Stakhovsky   Stuttgart        6-4 6-3
19.3%     Lukasz Kubot           Nicolas Almagro     French Open      3-6 2-6 7-6(3) 7-6(5) 6-4    

P(UPSET)  WINNER                 LOSER               TOURNEY          SCORE
19.3%     Bernard Tomic          Feliciano Lopez     Australian Open  7-6(4) 7-6(3) 6-3
19.7%     Thomaz Bellucci        Andy Murray         Madrid Masters   6-4 6-2
19.7%     Pavol Cervenak         Victor Hanescu      Stuttgart        6-3 7-6(6)
19.7%     Richard Gasquet        Roger Federer       Rome Masters     4-6 7-6(2) 7-6(4)
19.9%     Rajeev Ram             Grigor Dimitrov     Atlanta          6-4 6-4
20.0%     Philipp Kohlschreiber  Robin Soderling     Indian Wells     7-6(8) 6-4

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