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Top Five Most Disappointing ATP Careers

Merlisa Lawrence CorbettFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2013

Top Five Most Disappointing ATP Careers

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    Some players burst onto the ATP Tour and soar to super-stardom only to flame out, leaving fans disappointed.  

    In assessing the most disappointing careers on the ATP, expectations were measured. After all, if we never expected much from a player, how could he disappoint?

    Whether knocked off course by injury like Gael Monfils or sidetracked by personal issues like Nikolay Davydenko, the players who top this list used to wow us. Now they leave us scratching our heads. 

    To make the most disappointing careers list the players must have been on tour at least five years. They had to have created enough buzz to join the "who's hot" list. Yet instead of keeping the heat on, their sizzle fizzled.

    This list does not include those like Mardy Fish, who exceeded expectations from their first leap into the limelight. It also does not include those like James Blake or Lleyton Hewitt, "names" who had years of sustained success before losing steam with age. 

    This list is about those whose play elevated them to top-tier talk before they vanished from contention.

    They displayed brilliance, created buzz and then went bust. They once dazzled before leaving us disappointed. 

No. 5 Marcos Baghdatis

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    When Marcos Baghdatis upset then No. 3 Andy Roddick at the 2006 Australian Open he was unseeded and unknown. He went on to upset No. 4 David Nalbandian in the semifinals and took the first set off the great Roger Federer in the finals. After that everybody wanted to know who this 20-year-old from Cyprus was.

    By the end of 2006 Baghdatis had risen to No. 8 in the rankings

    Plagued by injuries since 2008, Baghdatis has struggled in his quest to regain his top-10 form. 

    Still a dangerous draw in any tournament, his career has been disappointing because he came out of nowhere to rattle Federer at the top of his game but now can't seem to crack back into the top 20.  

No. 4 Gael Monfils

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    Gael Monfils was once must-see TV. His acrobatic play made him a crowd pleaser on the tour and helped him reach a career high No. 7 ranking. 

    He attacked the tennis ball with the ferocity of an NBA player finishing a slam dunk. Unfortunately, his daring style of play contributed to his chronic knee problems.

    Now out of the top 100, Monfils faces difficult early round opponents. His confidence appears shaken and a true comeback is still in doubt.  

    No longer a living human-highlight reel, Monfils may never be the same. 

No. 3 Fernando Verdasco

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    Remember when Fernando Verdasco was "that other Spaniard?"  Once a poor-man's Rafael Nadal, these days Verdasco is just playing poorly. 

    His 2009 Australian Open semifinal match against Nadal was five hours and 14 minutes of pure magic. 

    His ATP career is disappointing because although he suffers from nagging injuries, Verdasco's woes seem to be more psychological than physical. He once brought passion to the game but these days he plays uninspired tennis.  

    He reached a career-high No. 7 before a steady descent out of the top 20. Now ranked No. 35, his best years are most likely behind him.  

No. 2 Nikolay Davydenko

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    Nikolay Davydenko, the bald Russian who always looked older than his age, rose to No. 3 in 2006.

    He reached the semifinals of four Grand Slams.  

    The most disappointing part of Davydenko's career is the cloud that hangs over his head because of a controversial betting scandal in which he was accused of participating in fixing matches.  

    Around the same time that the betting scandal surfaced, Davydenko was twice cited by chair umpires for "poor effort."

    Although he was cleared of "match fixing" in 2008, the investigation seemed to take its toll on his career.

No. 1 Robin Soderling

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    Before Novak Djokovic went on a tear through the ATP, Swedish player Robin Soderling seemed like he too could break through the Nadal-Federer grip on Grand Slam finals. 

    He stunned Nadal at the 2009 French Open. It was Nadal's first defeat at the French Open. Solderling lost to Federer in the final.

    Talk about a rivalry between the Swede and the Swiss began after Soderling defeated Federer in the quarterfinals of the  2010 French Open.

    Like Djokovic, Soderling wasn't intimidated by Nadal or Federer. 

    Then in 2011 Soderling was diagnosed with mononucleosis, which led to his absence from the tour.

    Last year in an interview with ESPN.com writer Ravi Ubha, Soderling spoke of a comeback. Until then, he remains listed as inactive. 

Honorable Mention: Donald Young

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    Donald Young came to the tour over-hyped and under tremendous pressure to take the baton from Andy Roddick as the next great American player. Often playing with a chip on his shoulder, Young produced matches riddled with unforced errors.   

    Once ranked as high as No. 38, Young finds himself outside the top 150. At 23 years old Young has time to get back on track but he has to switch gears.

Honorable Mention: David Nalbandian

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    David Nalbandian rose to No. 3 on the ATP tour. A contemporary of Davydenko and Federer, Nalbandian reached the 2002 Wimbledon final, where he lost to Hewitt.  

    He underwent hip surgery in 2009 and appeared to bounce back. He won the 2010 Legg Mason title in Washington D.C.  But after a series of injuries, Nalbandian finished outside of the top 50 in 2011 and 2012. He is now ranked 132nd.

    Thanks to YouTube and his hot temper, Nalbandian will most likely be remembered as the man who kicked a line judge

Honorable Mention: Bernard Tomic

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    Bernard Tomic is only 20 so it's hard to call his career disappointing. But in 2008 at age 15, Tomic arrived on tour amid a lot of hype.

    The way the Australians went on about this guy you'd think he'd have at least a couple of Grand Slam finals under his belt by now. Instead, his career seems to have plateaued in the middle of the pack.  

    Earlier this year at the Australian Open Federer cautioned the trash-talking Tomic to let his play precede the hype. So far, it hasn't. 

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