Andy Murray joins an elite club
Even as defending champions Serbia, Spain, France and Argentina booked semi-final berths in this weekend's Davis Cup action it was Britain's Andy Murray who recreated history.
Having endured another disappointment at the All England Championships (Wimbledon) recently, the world No.4 regrouped to join a select group of players who have triple bageled their opponents (winning 6-0, 6-0, 6-0).
Playing the second singles in Britain's Group II (Europe/Africa zone) encounter against Luxembourg in Glasgow, with the hosts having lost the opening singles, Murray didn't allow opponent Laurent Bram to get into the scoreboard, winning all the 18 games played.
It was a match where everything was in Murray's favour: a partisan home crowd (for a Scotsman), a favoured surface (hard) and an opponent who had not played a professional match since 2008.
In fact, Bram had quit playing competitive tennis after failing to break into the top 900; the highest ranking he attained was 966.
Regardless of that, Murray's is a no mean feat. The 24-year-old won 72 of the 87 points played, allowed his opponent just two successive points (courtesy consecutive double faults) and wrapped up the match in just 51 minutes. (Murray went on to beat Luxembourg's top player, Gilles Muller, in his second match to ensure Britain the tie.)
It was just the sixth triple bagel in the Open Era. While congratulating Murray on his feat we take a look at the other players who preceded the Scot.
Image: Andy Murray and (inset) Laurent Bram
Photographs: Getty Images
Spear was the first, Novacek the second
Nikola Spear of the erstwhile Yugoslavia was the first player to achieve a triple bagel in the Open Era when he didn't allow Daniel Contet to win a game in the opening round of the French Open in 1968.
Spear's joy was shortlived, as he was beaten in four sets in the second round by Chilean Patricio Cornejo.
Roland Garros was the venue for the second such feat as well, 19 years later, when Czech Karel Novacek (pictured) blanked Eduardo Bengoechea in the second round.
The Argentine, then ranked No.50, was no match for the Czech, who won 11 of his 13 career titles on the red dirt.
Novacek, a competent player in his time who had a career-high ranking of No.8, went on to register a career-best result at the French Open, reaching the last eight before losing to Miroslav Mecir.
Image: Karel Novacek
Edberg showed no mercy to his compatriot
A fortnight after Novacek's feat, Stefan Edberg repeated the same at the 1987 All England Championships (Wimbledon).
The Swede, a six-time major champion, blanked compatriot Stefan Eriksson en route to the semi-finals.
Eriksson, ranked a poor 118 to Edberg's No.4 at the time, had no chance whatsoever in the opening round encounter.
The affable Swede was sympathetic towards his countryman, but admitted, he didn't want to miss out on the glorious opportunity.
"I felt sorry for Stefan, it was his first match on grass," confessed Edberg, adding, "I thought about giving him a game but you never know when you're going to have another chance to win 3 love sets."
Edberg also achieved a double bagel at the Qatar Open, Doha, in 1993, when he thrashed Italian Gianluca Pozzi 6-0, 6-0 in the quarter-finals.
Image: Stefan Edberg
Lendl had as many as six career shutouts
It was a hat-trick in 1987, so to speak.
With Novacek achieving a triple bagel at the French Open, and Edberg following suit at Wimbledon, it was left to the then world No.1 Ivan Lendl to complete the hat-trick.
The Czech didn't allow South African Barry Moir to take a game in their opening round match.
Lendl went on to defeat Anders Jarryd, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Mats Wilander en route to his successful title defence.
It proved to be his third (straight) and final triumph at Flushing Meadows.
In fact, in his long and illustrious career, Lendl delivered a total of 152 bagels and had as many as six shutouts, the other five being in best-of-three sets encounters.
It might come across as a surprise to many, but Lendl once beat the legendary Connors 6-0, 6-0 in the semi-final of the WCT Forest Hills tournament in 1984.
Image: Ivan Lendl
Bruguera used it as a platform to his first French Open title
Roland Garros served as a backdrop for the third time in 1993 when Sergi Bruguera thrashed Thierry Champion in the second round, winning all the 18 games contested.
It was no surprise that Bruguera, the in-form player coming into the tournament with title triumph at a big ticket event in Monte Carlo, didn't allow the Frenchman to win a game.
The Spaniard continued with his impressive form, beating Magnus Larsson, Fernando Meligeni, Pete Sampras and Andrei Medvedev in his subsequent matches.
He went on to win his maiden French Open title, defeating two-time defending champion Jim Courier in a classic five-set final.
And it took a whopping 18 years before Murray ensured the elite group welcomed a new member.
Image: Sergi Bruguera