Remember that time in 2015 when the world’s top-ranked player, Novak Djokovic lost to unranked Australian Chris Letcher? You don’t. Well it could’ve happened.
In doing some research on the 2015 season, I decided to jump down the wormhole of who would have the worst possible indirect win over Djokovic. These types of path or graph theory problems are fun to explore. What is the simplest, longest past over a certain player? And along the way, can we find the ‘worst’ or lowest-ranked player…
Letcher, who reached a career-high 508 in 2012, played one tournament this year. In Leon, Mexico he defeated Mexican Mauricio Astorga in the first round of the Challenger’s qualifying, 76 61.
Just two weeks later, Astorga defeated Bolivia’s Alejandro Mendoza in the first round of qualifying at the Guadalajara Challenger, 60 75.
Medoza, currently ranked 801, beat Chilean Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz, currently ranked 534, in the second round of the Bogata Challenger qualifying by walkover.
At the same Bogata Challenger in May, Rivera-Aranguiz defeated Facundo Mena of Argentina in the second round, 16 63 62. Mena in turn, twice defeated Ecuador’s Ivan Endara in 2015, once at the Medellin Challenger and once at Colombia F5.
Then, at the San Luis Potosi Challenger, Endara defeats Rogerio Dutra Silva, 75 61. Dutra Silva defeats current top-20 player, Benoit Paire of France at the Milan Challenger, 64 64.
It can take several paths from here on in, but I try to follow them in some order.
Paire takes down Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the ATP event in Tokyo, 36 64 61. Twice during the 2015 season, Kyrgios defeated Ivo Karlovic (Kuala Lumpur and at the Australian Open).
Which brings us to last January in Doha when our big-serving friend from Croatia topped the top-ranked Djokovic, 67 76 64.
To be fair, Letcher did have a few points from 2014 and actually finished the year ranked 999, but still quite a remarkable story.
Amazingly, this isn’t the most outrageous path. If you eliminate all walkovers, you get a new longest path. But to see it, you will have to stay tuned until tomorrow.
THE PATH FROM LETCHER TO DJOKER
Chris Letcher (AUS) d. Mauricio Astorga (MEX) — Leon Challenger
Mauricio Astorga (MEX) d. Alejandro Mendoza (BOL) — Guadalajara Challenger
Alejandro Mendoza (BOL) d. Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz (CHI) — Bogata Challenger
Guillermo Rivera-Aranguiz (CHI) d. Facundo Mena (ARG) — Bogata Challenger
Facundo Mena (ARG) d. Ivan Endara (ECU) — Medellin Challenger and Colombia F5
Ivan Endara (ECU) d. Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) — San Luis Potosi Challenger
Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) d. Benoit Paire (FRA) — Milan Challenger
Benoit Paire (FRA) d. Nick Kyrgios (AUS) — Tokyo
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) d. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) — Kuala Lumpur and Australian Open
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) d. Novak Djokovic (SRB) — Doha