Welcome to Wimbledon Flashbacks, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable narratives from The Championships over the past 20 years. After recapping Birmingham's best battles and excellent Eastbourne encounters, our retrospective heads to the lawns of SW19. Next up is a look back at how Yaroslava Shvedova dealt out the only WTA Golden Set of the Open Era over Sara Errani in the 2012 third round.
For more classic moments, check out our other Wimbledon Flashbacks:
1999: Qualifier Dokic dispatches top seed Hingis in first-round stunner
1999: Stevenson topples Raymond in all-American 1999 thriller
2003: Navratilova shows her class at 46 to win title 20 alongside Paes
2005: Venus, Davenport contest classic clash in enthralling 2005 final
2017: Returning Rybarikova stuns Pliskova in 2017 Cinderella run
2019: From qualifying to Centre Court, Gauff's star rises at SW19
THE MOMENT: Despite this third-round clash between Sara Errani and Yaroslava Shvedova pitting the No.10 seed against a mere wildcard, it screamed 'upset potential' to most.
After all, while Errani was in the form of her career - having just reached her maiden Grand Slam final at Roland Garros - grass was far from the Italian's favored turf, nor one that allowed her defensive and tactical skills to thrive. Shvedova, on the other hand, boasted a formidable power game - one that had taken her to the Wimbledon doubles title two years previously with Vania King - and her World No.65 ranking was less a reflection of her ability than the knee surgery she had undergone a year previously. Moreover, a quarterfinal run out of qualifying at Roland Garros had underlined the Kazakh's rediscovery of the form that had taken her into the singles Top 30 in 2010.
Curiously, though, at this point it was Errani who had the superior Wimbledon record: this was her second appearance in the third round, compared to Shvedova's first. Errani's demolitions of CoCo Vandeweghe and Anne Keothavong in the first two rounds, dropping just six games in total, were also more impressive on paper than Shvedova's tighter victories over Chanelle Scheepers 7-6(5), 7-6(5) and Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-4.
So while the on-paper upset was plausible, the scale of what ensued was stunning. Shvedova shot out of the blocks, firing an ace on the first point of the match and smacking three groundstroke winners to break Errani to love - and didn't let up for an entire set, running off all 24 points in 15 minutes to seal a historic Golden Set.
No WTA player had accomplished this feat in the Open Era; the only previous occurrence on either tour was former ATP World No.9 Bill Scanlon's 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Marcos Hocevar in the first round of Delray Beach in 1983. Remarkably, the closest any woman had previously come to it had also been Shvedova, who won the first 23 points of her 2006 Memphis second round over Amy Frazier - before double faulting, losing that game and eventually match by a deeply strange 1-6, 6-0, 6-0 scoreline.
Disappointingly, Shvedova was unable to clear up any confusion about that contest, claiming to have no memory whatsoever of it. And any suspicion that the 24-year-old had been spurred by thoughts of unfinished business was laid to rest as she also confirmed that she had been unaware of her run of points against Errani until her coach informed her after the match. "Today I laid a golden egg!" she tweeted excitedly.
Today I laid a golden egg! :D segodnya ya snesla zolotoe yaichko! :D— Yaroslava Shvedova (@SlavaSays) June 30, 2012
But that was simply an indication of the degree to which Shvedova was in the zone. Make no mistake: this set was almost entirely about her quality. Errani committed just three errors, only one of which was counted as unforced, while Shvedova struck 14 winners - including four aces - and five unreturned serves out of 24 points. Errani was able to put just three returns into the court.
The third and fourth games would be the peak of Shvedova's peak: a love hold comprising one ace and three service winners, followed by breaking Errani with her finest winners of the set, a stab volley that died just in front of the net and, moving backwards, a hooked angled overhead that landed on the sideline. By the final game, Errani was desperate enough to attempt serve-and-volleying - a kamikaze tactic in the face of Shvedova's dismissive returning.
It's a testament to the indefatigable Errani's ability to adjust and dig into matches that she was able to make the second set genuinely tight after such a whitewash - but unlike the Frazier match, Shvedova was able to hold on after her purple patch had ended to close out victory 6-0, 6-4.
THE MEANING: It didn't take long for word of Shvedova's feat to spread. "Hopefully I'll be able to win a point," joked her next opponent, the great Serena Williams. As it happened, eventual champion Williams was able to win several - but not before the Kazakh had stretched her all the way in a high-quality 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 epic.
Having begun the year outside the Top 200, Shvedova's mid-season surge was enough to take her to her career-high ranking of World No.25 in October and the only year-end Top 30 placement of her career. Wimbledon would also become a happy hunting ground for her: 2012 would be the first of three second-week appearances for Shvedova, who reached the fourth round again in 2014 before defeating Elina Svitolina, Sabine Lisicki and Lucie Safarova to make her third Grand Slam quarterfinal in 2016.
Shvedova would be a Top 100 mainstay until 2017, when first ankle surgery and then motherhood put her career on pause. However, 16 months after giving birth to twins in October 2018, the 32-year-old returned to action this year, though she was able to play only one match - a creditable 6-3, 6-2 loss to Laura Siegemund in the first round of Doha - before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Errani, for her part, shrugged off the historic whitewash admirably. The Italian bounced back to win her sixth career title in Palermo in her very next tournament, and went on to reach her first US Open semifinal that September - performances that would take her to her first Top 10 year-end finish, WTA Finals debut and her own career-high of World No.5 the following May. Errani would also have the last laugh in her rivalry with Shvedova: as though stung by the memory of this match, she would drop just six more games to Shvedova across two subsequent matches, winning 6-3, 6-0 in the second round of Dubai 2016 and 6-0, 6-3 in the second round of Charleston 2016.
This year, the tennis world was on tenterhooks at the prospect of the first Golden Set at WTA level since this match: the first round of Dubai saw Belinda Bencic reel off the first 19 points against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, just five points away from matching Shvedova's feat. But the Swiss shanked a forehand to end her run of points - and as if to underline the difficulty of both achieving it and sustaining that kind of form, went on to lose the contest 1-6, 6-1, 6-1.