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Brits falling at the last and a home nations clean sweep

Steven Lynch January 31, 2011
Greg Rusedski was beaten by Pat Rafter in the 1997 US Open final © Getty Images

I know that Greg Rusedski once reached the US Open singles final. Is he the only British man to do this in a Grand Slam event between Fred Perry and Andy Murray? asked Chris Wilson from London

Only two other men reached a Grand Slam singles final between the far-off days of Perry, and Murray's recent successes. Henry "Bunny" Austin made the final of the French Championships in 1937, losing to Henner Henkel of Germany, and the following year he reached his second Wimbledon final (he also lost there in 1932), only to be swept aside by the great Donald Budge, who was en route for the first calendar-year Grand Slam. Then in December 1977 John Lloyd reached the final of the Australian Open, but lost to the charismatic American Vitas Gerulaitis. Greg Rusedski lost in the final of the 1997 US Open to Australia's Pat Rafter.

How many teams have won the top division in English football only once? asked David Bell from Wolverhampton

There are four teams who have won the First Division (as it was then called) on one occasion only. The most recent is Nottingham Forest, who won in 1977-78: Brian Clough's team went on claim an unusual record by taking the European Cup in each of the following two seasons, so have won that more often than their own domestic league title. Ipswich Town won for the only time in 1961-62, when their manager was the future England boss Alf Ramsey. West Bromwich Albion claimed the league title for the only time in 1919-20, and Sheffield United (1897-98) complete the set. In case anyone's wondering, 19 different teams have won the FA Cup only once, several of them amateur teams from the 19th century. Those whose only win came since the Second World War are Derby County (1946), Charlton Athletic (1947), Blackpool (1953), Leeds United (1972), Southampton (1976), Ipswich Town (1978), Coventry City (1987) and Wimbledon (1988).

In 2010 Francesca Schiavone beat Samantha Stosur in the French Open women's singles final. A couple of weeks later at Wimbledon, both Schiavone and Stosur went out in the first round - has this ever happened to the two finalists of the previous Grand Slam event before? asked Mary Jonas from York

That's a rather complicated one, and exceedingly difficult to check. I'm not sure if this is the only other occasion, but I did manage to discover an instance in the men's game in 1959, and again it probably had a lot to do with the change from the slow clay of Roland Garros to the fast grass at Wimbledon: the Italian Nicky Pietrangeli beat South Africa's Ian Vermaak in the final of the French championships in 1959, but both lost in the first round at Wimbledon shortly afterwards, the No. 3 seed Pietrangeli to the young American Butch Buchholz and Vermaak to the fifth-seeded American Barry MacKay. If anyone can find any other instances, let me know!

Have the Breeders Cup horse races always been held in America? asked John Catcheside from London

The lucrative Breeders Cup series of horse races started in 1984, when they were held at Hollywood Park racecourse. They have been held every year since, always in the United States - except for 1996, when they were staged at Woodbine, which is near Toronto in Canada. That was the year Pilsudski, ridden by Walter Swinburn, won the Breeders Cup Turf race.

Has there ever been a year when none of the four golf majors had an American winner? asked Mike Hughes from Surrey

The only time this has happened since the introduction of the fourth major, the US Masters, in 1934, was in 1994. Jose-Maria Olazabal of Spain won the US Masters that year, South Africa's Ernie Els lifted the US Open, and the Zimbabwean Nick Price won both the British Open and the US PGA. By contrast there have been ten years when all four majors had American winners - 1946, 1953, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1982.

Which is the only horse to win the English, Scottish and Welsh Grand Nationals? asked Nick Woodbridge via Facebook

The only one to manage this triple is the big bay horse Earth Summit, which won the Scottish National at Ayr in 1994 (ridden by David Bridgewater), the Welsh one at Chepstow in 1997 (with Tom Jenks up), and the Aintree Grand National in 1998, now ridden by Carl Llewellyn.

And there's an addition to the answer in the last column about the Scotsman who won a bowls world championship for the United States, from Michael Browne:

"Something similar happened in the bowls tournament in the first Empire (now Commonwealth) Games, which were held in Hamilton in Canada in 1930. One of the Scottish team died on the boat over, and as there was no reserve the organisers permitted a local man, Tom Chambers, to make up the numbers for the fours. The Scottish team (plus Chambers) won the bronze medal, behind England and Canada."

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