Out of the Blue Australian Open Runs – Women

One of the best parts of Grand Slam Tennis is when a player makes a run out of nowhere and suddenly finds themselves playing at the business end of the tournament.

With the Australian Open in full swing and plenty of unheralded players still in the mix, we looked back at some of the runs since 1990 from players that came out of nowhere, we started with the men’s draw, now it’s time to turn our attention to the Women.

To qualify for this list the player simply had to make a run that was perhaps their first in a long time or just their first one full stop and upset one of the big names on the way.

Danielle Collins (2019 Semi-Final)

American Danielle Collins had a remarkable run in the 2019 Aussie Open with the highlight defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach her first semi-final.

Collins had never won a match in the main draw of a Grand Slam but was able to recover from a set down to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in a match lasting two hours 16 minutes.

She would go down to Petra Kvitová 7-6, 6-0 in the semi-final after a brilliant campaign.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (2017 Semi-Final)

Nobody saw Lucic-Baroni making her run to the semi-final when the 34-year-old German came out of nowhere in 2017.

It was unfortunate that she ran into the bulldozer named Serena Williams at that stage but the fact she made it that far is a story in & of itself.

Having made the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1999 as a 17-year-old, off the court dramas forced her to have a five-year hiatus from Grand Slams.

Even when she had completed her record was littered with first and second-round exits before she made her run last January.

She gained plenty of attention after upsetting third-seeded Agnieska Radwanska in the second round and by the time she reached the final four, there was plenty of support.


Johanna Konta (2016 Semi-Final)

To put it in the terms of her homeland, the pluck Brit made an impressive run to the semi-finals of the 2016 tournament.

Her previous best performance was a fourth-round run at the US Open in 2015 but before that, she had only gone past the first round once.

When she drew eighth-seeded Venus Williams in the first round, optimism would not have been at an all-time high although a 6-4 6-2 win would have helped that out.

Her fourth-round win was a marathon over Elena Makarova finishing 8-6 in the final set.

She faced Angelique Kerber in the semi-final and her run ended there in straight sets.

Zheng Jie (2010 Semi-Final)

After coming out on top in her first-round match against Shuai Peng, Zheng went on a giant-killing run with upset wins over three straight seeded players.

She was pushed to three sets before overcoming twenty-fourth seed Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and then eleventh seed Marion Bartoli.

By the time she hit the fourth round against thirty-first seed Alyona Bondarenko she was well & truly flying, and probably glad that one was over in straight sets.

A quarter-final win over Maria Kirilenko set up a semi-final berth against former world number 1 Justine Henin in her return to action.

This sort of run was not unprecedented as she had made the semi-finals at Wimbledon two years earlier but she was never quite able to recapture that form since.

Nathalie Dechy (2005 Semi-Final)

Despite entering this tournament seeded 19th, Dechy had not been known for her Grand Slam Prowess, regularly finding herself eliminated in the first week.

Towards the end of her career, she made a run at the Australian Open at a time when most of the host country was distracted by Lleyton Hewitt’s feats in the Men’s Draw.

Dechy was able to build some momentum early on posting three straight-sets wins from her first four matches before getting by Patty Schnyder in the quarters.

It was in the semis where her run would end however it was not without chances having taken the first set against Lindsay Davenport and having the second set in a tiebreaker.

Fabiola Zuluaga (2004 Semi-Final)

The Colombian right-hander was able to generate one Cinderella Grand Slam run in the second last year of her career.

Traditionally a clay court specialist (all five of her singles titles came on that surface) she found a rich vein of form to get to the Australian Open semi-final.

Her Grand Slam record made for short reading with plenty of first-week exits, her two prior Australian campaigns had produced just one match victory.

Her run was benefitted by a quarter-final walkover from Amelie Mauresmo without a ball being hit however she had only dropped one set to that point and was looking good.

It was Henin-Hardenne who ended her campaign here with a convincing 6-2 6-2 victory in the semi-finals.

While her run was not quite enough to end with a trophy, it certainly gained her plenty of popularity in her home country.

Adriana Serra Zanetti (2002 Quarter-Finals)

Zanetti saved her best Grand Slam performance for the Australian Open in 2002 when she made the quarter-finals.

A quick look at her profile shows that outside of a 1995 run to the fourth round at the French Open, her record at the majors was spotty at best.

Her biggest win in this run, however, was to upset the 11th seed Silvia Farina-Elia in the third round.

Put in a tough section of the draw it was Matina Hingis who ended her run with a straight-sets victory.

Dominique Monami & Kimberly Po (1997 Quarter-Finals)

A double feature in 1997 gave punters a chance to hedge their bets before both nowhere runs were ended at the quarter-final stage.

Monami’s run (at the time she was playing as Dominique Van Roost) was highlighted by a third-round win over Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario which ended 8-6 in the third set.

She was unable to finish her quarter-final against Mary Joe Fernandez retiring down a set and 4-0.

Kimberly Po’s highlight was undoubtedly beating Lindsay Davenport to reach the quarter-finals which was especially impressive since her country-woman had dropped just one game in her previous match.

Marianne Werdel-Witmeyer (1995 Semi-Final)

With only two third-round appearances in her Grand Slam career, the 27-year-old American pulled some stunning form out for this run.

A first-round upset over 5th seed Gabriela Sabatini got her off to the best possible start and she continued with straight-sets wins up to her semi-final against the top-seeded Sanchez-Vicario.

There the tables were unfortunately turned as the top-seeded Spaniard marched on to the final where she would fall to Mary Pierce.

Claudia Porwik (1990 Semi-Final)

At just 21 years old, the unseeded Porwik made a fantastic run to the end of the Australian Open before falling to Mary Joe Fernandez 6-2 6-1.

It did not stop her from claiming some big scalps on her way to the final, however, with her biggest victory coming over Gabriela Sabatini who retired in the second set.

It was the closest she ever got to a Grand Slam final and a run that she remembers fondly.


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