US Open 2020: Federer's first, Nadal's debut – the last time QFs were without a grand slam champion

By Sports Desk September 06, 2020

Remember Roger Federer's first grand slam title, or Rafael Nadal's major debut?

Both came at Wimbledon in 2003, which is the last time – before this year's US Open – when the quarter-finals of a grand slam did not feature a previous male major champion.

With Federer and Nadal absent in New York, Novak Djokovic stunningly defaulted after hitting a linesperson with a ball in his last-16 clash with Pablo Carreno Busta.

There will be a maiden male grand slam winner for the first time since 2014, when Marin Cilic claimed the title at Flushing Meadows.

While the quarter-finals are set to be packed with talented youngsters, we take a look back at what that tournament at Wimbledon in 2003 looked like.

Hewitt, Agassi fall early

The defending champion and top seed, Lleyton Hewitt was stunned in the opening round at the All England Club.

The Australian fell to Croatian Ivo Karlovic 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4 in a huge upset.

Hewitt had won the second of his two grand slams the previous year, but was shocked by the big-serving Karlovic to become just the second defending champion to bow out in the first round of the tournament.

"The first, I was completely – I mean, I was scared," Karlovic said afterwards. "After I saw that I can beat him, I start to play more better."

An eight-time grand slam winner whose last success had come at the Australian Open in 2003, Agassi made the fourth round before being edged by Mark Philippoussis 6-3 2-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-4.

Philippoussis would go on to reach his second grand slam final, but fell short against a 21-year-old Federer.

The other previous major winners in the draw were Juan Carlos Ferrero, who had just won the French Open, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Gustavo Kuerten.

Ferrero lost to Sebastien Grosjean in the fourth round, Kuerten departed in the second and Kafelnikov in a five-set loss to Raemon Sluiter in the first.

Federer takes his chance as Nadal makes debut

Federer was already the fourth seed heading into Wimbledon, and 2003 would mark the beginning of an era of success.

The Swiss had reached the quarter-finals two years prior, his reputation enhanced by an incredible five-set win over Pete Sampras.

But 2003 was comfortable for Federer, easing into the last eight before wins over Sjeng Schalken, Andy Roddick and Philippoussis.

Philippoussis had gone through five-setters against Agassi and Alexander Popp before beating Grosjean in the semis.

Grosjean had ended Tim Henman's latest home bid in the quarters, while Roddick had cruised past Jonas Bjorkman before falling to Federer.

Federer would win five straight Wimbledon titles and a record eight, while his 20 overall is also the most of men.

The man who would become one of his great rivals, Nadal, made his debut at a grand slam.

The 17-year-old Nadal beat Mario Ancic and Lee Childs before losing to Paradorn Srichaphan. The first of Nadal's 12 French Open titles came two years later, while his Wimbledon successes have come in 2008 and 2010.

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    Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes enjoyed a record-breaking November.

    The 2018 NFL MVP produced another dominant performance as Super Bowl champions the Chiefs overcame the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

    As the Chiefs improved to 10-1, Mahomes completed a magical November. This month, he completed 132 of 181 passes for 1,598 yards, 14 touchdowns and just one interception.

    As per Stats Perform, Mahomes averaged 399.5 passing yards per game in November. That is the most passing yards per game by any quarterback in a single month in NFL history (minimum four games played).

    Tyreek Hill caught three touchdown passes against the Buccaneers. Of Mahomes' 14 in November, eight were to Hill.

    We take a look at Mahomes' month.

    November 1 v New York Jets

    Unsurprisingly, the Jets were no match for Mahomes and the Chiefs at the start of the month.

    Mahomes went 31 of 42 for 416 yards and five touchdown passes in a 35-9 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

    He connected twice with Hill, throwing at least five TD passes in a game for the first time since late 2018.

    November 8 v Carolina Panthers

    Challenged by the Panthers, the Chiefs did enough to record a 33-31 win.

    With the Chiefs leading 20-17 entering the fourth quarter, the teams traded touchdowns, with Mahomes twice finding Hill.

    He finished with four touchdown passes, having completed 30 of 45 for 372 yards.

    November 22 v Las Vegas Raiders

    Seeking some revenge following their only loss of the season in October, the Chiefs found it thanks to Mahomes.

    They looked set for another defeat when Derek Carr found Jason Witten with a one-yard TD pass with less than two minutes remaining to put the Raiders ahead.

    But Mahomes led a seven-play, 75-yard drive in 75 seconds, completing it with a 22-yard pass to Travis Kelce to lift the Chiefs to a 35-31 victory.

    Mahomes completed 34 of 45 passes for 348 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

    November 29 v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Mahomes stepped up again as the Chiefs held off the Buccaneers 27-24 on Sunday.

    He completed 37 of 49 passes for 462 yards and three touchdowns, outshining Tom Brady as the Chiefs improved to 10-1.

    Only once – against the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 – has Mahomes had more passing yards in a game, finishing that contest with 478.

    Hill was the star with 269 receiving yards and three touchdowns with the Chiefs holding on against Brady's Tampa Bay.

  • Abraham urged to 'step up' as Chelsea draw a blank against Spurs Abraham urged to 'step up' as Chelsea draw a blank against Spurs

    A point gained, or two lost? Both Chelsea boss Frank Lampard and Tottenham counterpart Jose Mourinho felt their teams could have won a London derby that was big on pre-match hype but lacking in clear-cut chances.

    "That was a game where we respected them and they respected us," Mourinho told Sky Sports after the Stamford Bridge stalemate. A little too much respect, perhaps.

    The Premier League title hopefuls combined to manage four shots on target in a quickly forgettable contest that, like a loaf missing yeast, failed to rise.

    Lampard, meanwhile, reflected on a game where his team had the "handbrake a tiny bit up", even if a seventh clean sheet in nine outings shows they have some momentum to work with while parked nicely in third place in the table.

    One of the few openings came Chelsea's way as the capital clash neared a welcome conclusion, substitute Olivier Giroud not converting in added time when up against fellow Frenchman Hugo Lloris.

    Tammy Abraham watched on from the home bench as the man who had replaced him proved unable to grab a late winner. Abraham had moments to make a mark on proceedings before being replaced, only to fluff his lines on the big stage.

    There were a pair of inviting crosses from Reece James in the second half that were missed, while another delivery from Timo Werner – playing from the left in a front three – went begging.

    It summed up a frustrating outing for Abraham, whose 79 minutes on the pitch included four shots – none of which hit the target – along with 14 passes (he completed just 57 per cent of them) and 27 touches, a number only one better than his own team's goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy.

    The England international was a key figure in a successful first campaign under Lampard, scoring 15 league goals, but such exploits only lead to increased expectations.

    As former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink pointed out during Sky Sports' post-match coverage, the bar has been raised. If 2019-20 felt like a free swing for Lampard and his young squad, that early promise, coupled with substantial investment in the squad, has increased the pressure on all at the club.

    "He has to improve in those moments. He did ever so well last year when he came in, for half of the season he was a breath of fresh air, scored a lot of goals," Hasselbaink said of Abraham, who has started four games in a row in the league.

    "Second half of the season he had it tough, but it's normal because he's a young boy, but this season he needs to step up. With his stature, his ability, he should do better and score more goals and score more important goals."

    Abraham has three league goals so far in 2020-21, averaging one every 182 minutes. That compares unfavourably to last season, when he managed to score every 148 minutes.

    When it comes to big chances, the numbers are trending in the right direction. Last term he missed 22 such opportunities, but he has converted two of the four that have come his way so far in this campaign.

    Yet it is perhaps not too surprising that Abraham did not capitalise on James' delicious deliveries against Spurs, having scored just four of his 18 top-flight goals from crosses. Still, such openings cannot afford to be passed up now that the spotlight is more intense, both due to Werner's arrival from RB Leipzig and amid talk of a title tilt.

    "Sometimes I wonder if he watches clips of himself after the game, because sometimes his movement can be better, his hold-up can be better. He needs to keep on improving," Hasselbaink - who scored 69 times in the Premier League during his Chelsea career - added.

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    As the NFL season reaches its business end, the San Francisco 49ers are a team without a home.

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    Arizona/out of state

    Let's get the most likely, and most depressing alternative, out of the way first.

    Reports suggest that State Farm Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals, has emerged as the favourite to take on the Niners as temporary tenants.

    The 49ers are said to want to play in an NFL stadium and Arizona would be practical as it is relatively nearby and San Francisco and the Cardinals never play at home on the same day.

    It appears the 49ers will be temporarily bubbling up in an out-of-state location where restrictions are looser. If the Niners do fade completely from playoff contention, then it may be fitting for them to round off a season they will want to forget in a hurry by playing out the string at the home of another team.

    Oakland Coliseum

    Providing Alameda County, of which is Oakland is part, does not introduce the same measures as Santa Clara, the Coliseum could be considered the leader in the clubhouse among the realistic California options.

    It hosted NFL football as recently as last year as the Raiders played their final season in the Bay Area before moving to Las Vegas, so would likely be the easiest local stadium to get ready in time.

    California Memorial Stadium

    The home of the California Golden Bears also resides in the East Bay in Alameda County. The Bears have only one more home game scheduled in the 2020 college football season, so logistically this 98-year-old venue could work as a solution.

    Oracle Park

    The 49ers actually playing in San Francisco? What a concept.

    Oracle Park, home of MLB's San Francisco Giants, will remain free until April and has previously played host to college football bowl games.

    The size of the field may be an issue that prevents a move to Willie Mays Plaza from being a realistic option, but the prospect of the Niners playing at one of the most spectacular ballparks in MLB is a fun one to think about.

    Kezar Stadium

    Let's get nostalgic.

    There is no chance of the 49ers moving back to their original home, nestled within the picturesque grounds of Golden Gate Park.

    Gone are the days when Kezar could hold close to 60,000 people. Today it hosts USL soccer and high school football and would be ill-equipped to accommodate two NFL teams and the television equipment needed to broadcast games.

    But in a season that has brought the 49ers little reason for celebration, a return to where it all started would allow them the chance to finish it off with a unique experience.

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