Kaia Kanepi: 10 wins over Top 10 players at Majors

Kaia Kanepi French Open
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Kaia Kanepi has become renowned for her ability to defeat high-ranked opposition in the early stages of Grand Slam tournaments.

In the opening round of the 2022 French Open, the 36-year-old Estonian downed World No. 10 Garbine Muguruza to earn her most recent win over a Top 10-ranked opponent. The World No. 46 has now recorded 15 career victories against Top 10 players, with 10 of these wins coming in Majors.

Here, we look at Kanepi’s 10 Grand Slam triumphs over opponents ranked in the Top 10:

French Open 2008: d. Anna Chakvetadze

At the 2008 French Open, Kanepi upset World No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze, who had reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2007, 6-4 7-6(2) in the second round. It was a first win over a Top 10 opponent for the then 22-year-old, who had beaten Yuan Meng in the first round.

The unseeded Estonian then defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues and Petra Kvitova to reach the quarterfinals, where she fell to No. 4 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Wimbledon 2010: d. Samantha Stosur

At the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, Kanepi downed World No. 6 Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-4 in the opening round after qualifying for the event. Stosur, a champion at the 2011 US Open, had reached the final of the 2010 French Open.

Kanepi went on to beat Edina Gallovits, Alexandra Dulgheru and Klara Koukalova en route to making the quarterfinals, where she was edged by Petra Kvitova. The Estonian became the first qualifier to reach the quarterfinals of Wimbledon since Severine Beltrame in 2006.

US Open 2010: d. Jelena Jankovic

At the following Grand Slam event, Kanepi defeated World No. 5 Jelena Jankovic 6-2 7-6(1) in the third round of the 2010 US Open. Former World No. 1 Jankovic was runner-up at the 2008 US Open.

Kanepi, the No. 31 seed, had beaten Alize Cornet and Akgul Amanmuradova in the opening two rounds. The then 25-year-old downed Yanina Wickmayer in the last 16, before losing to seventh seed and eventual finalist Vera Zvonareva in the last eight.

French Open 2012: d. Caroline Wozniacki

At the 2012 French Open, Kanepi overcame World No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 6-7(3) 6-3 in the third round. She had also beaten Wozniacki at the Pan Pacific Open in Japan in 2011 when the Dane was ranked World No. 1.

Having also defeated Alexandra Panova and Irina-Camelia Begu in the opening two rounds, the Estonian prevailed against Arantxa Rus in the fourth round. The No. 23 seed’s run was ended in the quarterfinals by No. 2 seed and eventual champion Maria Sharapova.

Wimbledon 2013: d. Angelique Kerber

At the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, Kanepi defeated World No. 7 Angelique Kerber 3-6 7-6(6) 6-3 in the third round. The German later became a World No. 1 in 2016 and a Wimbledon champion in 2018.

The unseeded Estonian, who edged Tara Moore in the first round, then beat Alison Riske and Laura Robson en route to the last eight. There, she was stopped by eventual runner-up Sabine Lisicki.

Wimbledon 2014: d. Jelena Jankovic

A year on from her last Top 10 victory, Kanepi earned her second win over Jankovic in a Grand Slam with a 6-3, 6-2 opening round triumph at Wimbledon in 2014. After beating the World No. 8, the unseeded Estonian fell to Yaroslava Shvedova in the second round at the All England Club.

US Open 2018: d. Simona Halep

Over four years after her previous Top 10 win, Kanepi stunned World No. 1 Simona Halep 6-2 6-4 in the first round of the 2018 US Open. It was the first time in the Open Era that the top seed lost in the opening round of the US Open women’s singles event.

The then 33-year-old followed that by downing Jil Teichmann and Rebecca Peterson in the second and third rounds respectively. The unseeded Estonian then lost to eventual finalist Serena Williams in the last 16.

Australian Open 2022: d. Sofia Kenin

At the 2021 Australian Open, Kanepi defeated World No. 4 and defending champion Sofia Kenin 6-3 6-2 in the second round. After having also beaten Anastasija Sevastova in the opening round, the unseeded Estonian fell to Donna Vekic in the third round.

Australian Open 2022: d. Aryna Sabalenka

A year after her win over Kenin, Kanepi overcame World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 5-7 6-2 7-6(7) in the fourth round of the 2022 Australian Open.

The Estonian had recorded wins over Kerber, Marie Bouzkova and Maddison Inglis in the opening three rounds. In the quarterfinals, the unseeded 36-year-old’s run was ended by then World No. 7 Iga Swiatek, who is now World No. 1.

French Open 2022: d. Garbine Muguruza

At the ongoing 2022 French Open, an unseeded Kanepi defeated Muguruza 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 for her 10th Grand Slam victory over a top-10 ranked player. The 36-year-old will face Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the second round in Paris on Wednesday.

The next possible Top 10 opponent she could face would be Maria Sakkari in a potential semifinal. No. 2 seed Barbora Krejcikova, No. 5 seed Anett Kontaveit and No. 6 seed Ons Jabeur have all fallen in the bottom half of the women’s draw.

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