Upsets are why we love watching our favourite sports. If we knew that that the best team or player was going to win on a regular basis, we would probably lose interest very quickly.
A rags to riches story is always compelling, but it always seems to mean more in a sporting environment. Here are our three favourite sporting upsets from moments in the UK in the 21st century.
Shaun Murphy (2005 World Championship)
Even hardcore snooker fans were stunned by Murphy’s triumph in the 2005 World Championship. The 21-year-old only reached the World Championships as a qualifier, but produced an incredible run to the final before defeating Matthew Stevens to win the crown.
Murphy overcame 1998 Champion John Higgins and five-time title winner Steve Davis to reach the last four of the competition. A victory over Peter Ebdon set a duel with Stevens in the final, where Murphy held his composure amid huge pressure to take the crown.
He has been a finalist three times since, but has not managed to add to his haul. Murphy was a leading contender in the Betfair snooker betting odds for the 2022 tournament, but was stunned in the first round of the competition by Stephen Maguire.
A quick look at the snooker betting tips today would see that Ronnie O’Sullivan is the leading contender for the 2022 World Championship, proving that Murphy and the rest of the field are still behind the Rocket, despite his advancing years.
Even though he has endured ups and downs in his career, he will still be remembered in the history of the Crucible Theatre as perhaps the World Championship’s most notable winner due to the nature of his triumph.
Leicester City (2015/16 Premier League)
Leicester City survived by the skin of their teeth under the tenure of Nigel Pearson in the 2014/15 season, winning six out of their final eight matches to avoid relegation. New manager Claudio Ranieri took over from Pearson amid an off-the-field scandal during the summer, which resulted in the Foxes being widely touted to drop into the Championship.
You could find odds of 5000/1 for Leicester to win the Premier League before the start of the term. No one could predict what would happen next. After beating Sunderland on the opening day of the season, the Foxes used the surge of momentum to enjoy a great start to the campaign. Pundits and fans widely expected their run to peter out, but it did not.
Jamie Vardy kept scoring and a backline featuring unheralded players Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan and Christian Fuchs was resolute. Superstars N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez dominated in the middle of the park. Ranieri’s men lost only three games over the course of the campaign and their incredible title win was confirmed following Tottenham Hotspur’s failure to beat Chelsea, sparking massive celebrations at the King Power Stadium.
Emma Raducanu (US Open 2021)
Raducanu burst onto the scene at Wimbledon in 2021 as a wildcard and reached the fourth round of the competition with a series of impressive victories. However, her tournament came to a premature end against Ajla Tomljanovic when she was forced to withdraw for health reasons during the second set. Pundits believed that the moment was too big for Raducanu at the time, and that she required greater composure on the major stage to compete for Grand Slams.
Two short months later, Raducanu would prove those doubters wrong with an incredible run at the US Open to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Virginia Wade in 1977. Raducanu did not drop a set on her way to the crown before overcoming Leylah Fernandez in the final. It was a poignant moment for British sport and the start of a very bright career for Raducanu.