Tennis is one of the more popular sports in India. Over the years, India has enjoyed some great success in Tennis at the global level. From Grand Slams to Olympics to some stunning Davis Cup victories, Indian players have achieved it all. But, most of these success enjoyed by Indians in tennis have come in either the doubles or mixed doubles category.
Though, no Indian player has won big tournaments in singles consistently there have been quite a few instances when they have notched up some brilliant and surprising wins over much tougher and higher ranked opponents. Here, we look at such Indian stars who have registered a win/s against the Top 10 ranked singles players in the world:
Leander Paes is arguably India’s best ever tennis player and is considered to be the greatest doubles player of all time. During the course of his career, Paes has won a total of 18 Grand Slams – all in doubles and mixed doubles category. In singles, Paes famously had bagged a bronze medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics which still remains the only medal won by an Indian in Tennis at the Olympics.
Other than his stellar doubles career and the third place finish at the Olympics, Leander Paes once famously defeated the legendary Pete Sampras in a singles match. He beat the reigning Wimbledon champion and the then world number 2, Sampras in 6-3, 6-4 in straight sets in the 1998 Pilot Pen International Tennis Championships. Ranked world number 100 then, Paes shocked the world of tennis with his stunning display against Sampras.
Though his victory against Sampras is the most talked about, a young Paes had earlier also beaten the then world number 7 Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia. Ranked world number 23 then, Leander Paes got better of Ivanisevic in a Davis Cup between India and Croatia in the year 1995.
Somdev Devvarman registered a win in men’s singles against the then world number five Juan Martin Del Potro in the year 2014. Playing in the Dubai Duty Free Championships, Somdev faced Del Potro in the first round match of the tournament.
Ranked world number 78 then, Somdev had pocketed the first set 7-3 in one hour and seven minutes before Del Potro took a medical timeout due to grueling pain in his left wrist. His pain refused to subside and Potro eventually conceded the match without playing further.
Much before the current crop of players like Leander Paes and Sania Mirza came to the fore; Ramanathan Krishnan was the face of Indian tennis. In what was one of the best games he played, Ramanathan defeated the reigning Australian Open champion Roy Emerson in straight sets during the quarterfinals of the 1961 Wimbledon men’s singles. He though lost his very next match against the eventual champion from Australia, Neale Fraser.
A former Davis Cup captain, the brightest moment in Ramesh Krishnan’s career came in the year 1989 when he beat the then world number 1 Mats Wilander in just the second round of the Australian Open. The young Ramesh decimated the Swedish Wilander 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 to register a famous victory. The impact of his victory was such that it left Wilander contemplating a break from the world of tennis.
Currently aged 25, Ramkumar Ramanathan is the latest player to defeat a top 10 ranked opponent in singles. Back in the 2017 Antalya Open, a 22 year old Ramkumar brought out his ‘A’ game to defeat the then world number 8 Dominic Thiem. If the Indian was at the top of his game, then the Austrian struggled to get going as he was handed an embarrassing 6-3, 6-2 defeat by the then world number 222 in straight sets.
Sania Mirza is undoubtedly the best female tennis player to emerge out of India. Similar to Leander Paes, Mirza too is known for her exploits in the doubles category where she was ranked world number 1 for 91 consecutive weeks. But, much before she turned a doubles star, Sania Mirza was a player to reckon with in the singles circuit as well.
The year 2006 was when Sania rose in stature as she broke into top 30 in women’s singles rankings and was later ranked world number 27 in the year 2007. During her rise to the top, Sania Mirza registered three top victories in the 2006 itself when she defeated Svetlana Kuznetova, Nadia Petrova and Martina Hingis.