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Ranking the Most Frustrating Players to Watch in Tennis Today

Merlisa Lawrence CorbettFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2014

Ranking the Most Frustrating Players to Watch in Tennis Today

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    Venus Williams at 2014 Australian Open
    Venus Williams at 2014 Australian OpenMark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Venus Williams' first-round loss at the Australian Open is the latest in a growing number of frustrating performances by the seven-time Grand Slam champion.

    No longer a Top 10 player, Williams now joins the list of most frustrating players to watch. Players who frustrate do far more than disappoint. They baffle. You tune in expecting amazing, and, instead, they serve up the inexplicable. 

    John Isner often disappoints simply because Americans want so badly for him to succeed. But Isner is hardly frustrating. The big guy is neither agile or speedy. In fact, given his size and lack of natural talent, Isner might be an overachiever. 

    Sabine Lisicki is frustrating. She packs heavy artillery but shoots blanks too often. 

    The most frustrating players to watch are those whose play makes you throw your hands up in disbelief. During their matches you tweet SMH and OMG. They make you ask why? How? 

10. Venus Williams

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    Venus Williams answers questions after first-round loss at 2014 Australian Open.
    Venus Williams answers questions after first-round loss at 2014 Australian Open.Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

    Venus Williams is 33. She suffers from a chronic ailment. That's why people root for her. Still, she is frustrating to watch because her greatness remains fresh in our minds.

    The most frustrating part about watching Venus is for a set or so she reminds us of why she won seven Grand Slams. In the first round of the Australian Open, we saw vintage Venus in the first set. She was smacking forehand winners and serving aces. 

    Then in the second set, she serves three consecutive double faults. Ugh.

9. Richard Gasquet

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    Richard Gasquet
    Richard GasquetChris Hyde/Getty Images

    Richard Gasquet has such a beautiful game. His one-handed backhand is so sweet and Federesque. But that's where the comparison ends. Gasquet, the original baby Federer, lacks championship nerve.  

    The reason Gasquet is frustrating to watch is that when it's time to come up big, he turns up small. He has an abysmal .214 winning percentage against Top 10 players.

    He hasn't even come close to living up to the Federer comparison. It's unlikely he ever will. 

8. Laura Robson

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    Laura Robson
    Laura RobsonClive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Laura Robson turns 20 January 21. There was a time when she was grouped with Sloane Stephens as one of the young guns to watch.  However, Stephens has climbed to No. 13. Robson is No. 48. What makes her frustrating to watch is that you can see she has the power to hang with anybody. But she loses focuses and patience.

    There's no shame in losing a first-round match to Kirsten Flipkens at the Australian Open. But getting blown off the court in 50 minutes? Certainly not what you expect from Great Britain's tennis princess. 

7. Gael Monfils

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    Gael Monfils at Australian Open
    Gael Monfils at Australian OpenMichael Dodge/Getty Images

    Gael Monfils is one of the most exciting players on tour. He jumps into forehands with the ferocity of an NBA player driving to the hoop for a slam dunk. 

    Monfils makes acrobatic plays. He's a defensive wizard. While mesmerized by his style, you can't help but wonder why there are no Grand Slam titles for this guy? That's probably because sometimes Monfils appears more concerned with entertaining fans than winning the match. He gestures to the crowd and beats his chest.

    His lulls in focus are frustrating. Showmanship is fine. Championship would be better. 

6. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Australian Open
    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Australian OpenCameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Like Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga produces results beneath his talent. But Monfils is more of the class clown. Tsonga, while enthusiastic and entertaining, plays with more balance and focus. 

    That's why his failures in big matches are so frustrating to watch. Last year at the French Open, Tsonga reached the semifinals. He had a chance to become the first Frenchman to reach the final at the French Open since Henri Leconte in 1988. With the French crowd solidly behind him, Tsonga went down in straight sets to David Ferrer. He was never in the match and gave the crowd nothing.  

5. Bernard Tomic

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    Bernard Tomic at 2014 Australian Open
    Bernard Tomic at 2014 Australian OpenClive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Australia's boy wonder stood no chance of living up to the hype surrounding his debut. Still, what makes watching Tomic frustrating is you can see the raw talent. His forehand is so explosive.

    It's been nearly four years since he turned pro and Tomic remains outside the Top 50. In an open letter to Tomic, titled "How to Fix Your Life," Ewan Porter, a former professional golfer, warned his fellow Aussie not to squander his talent.

4. Fernando Verdasco

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    Fernando Verdasco at Australian Open tuneup tournament.
    Fernando Verdasco at Australian Open tuneup tournament.Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    Talk about a guy with serious talent, Fernando Verdasco is more than a poor man's Rafael Nadal. What makes watching him frustrating is that similar to Monfils and Tsonga, Verdasco has Grand Slam-title talent but tanks when it matters most. Once ranked as high as No. 7, Verdasco is now No. 33. 

3. Sabine Lisicki

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    Sabine Lisicki, Wimbledon finalist, goes out in second round at 2014 Australian Open.
    Sabine Lisicki, Wimbledon finalist, goes out in second round at 2014 Australian Open.Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    If you want to know what makes Sabine Lisicki so frustrating to watch just do a rewind back to Wimbledon 2013. You will see the best and worst Lisicki has to offer. She conquered the queen of tennis in her upset over Serena Williams. Yet she falls apart in the Wimbledon final.

    Watching her weep her way through points was painful. She came to Australian talking about her renewed attempts to handle her emotions on court. She even hired Martina Hingis as coach. In her second-round match she won the first set 6-2. Then she caved to a player ranked No. 64.

2. Ryan Harrison

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    Ryan Harrison hits the ground at 2014 Australian Open.
    Ryan Harrison hits the ground at 2014 Australian Open.Michael Dodge/Getty Images

    Ryan Harrison is only 21 and hasn't accomplished much in his short career. That's why it is so frustrating to watch him strut around the court like he's God's gift to tennis. Harrison recently told Tennis.com that he believed he could reach the Top 10. Yes, he could. He's still young and perhaps he is a late bloomer.

    But his career has been heading backward. He reached No. 43 in 2012. He's now ranked No. 110. 

1. Petra Kvitova

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    Petra Kvitova at Australian Open
    Petra Kvitova at Australian OpenMark Kolbe/Getty Images

    Petra Kvitova has a Wimbledon title under her belt. But what makes her frustrating to watch is that she takes you on this roller-coaster ride. One month she's going toe to toe with Serena Williams. Then she falls to Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand. How can someone who can hit Top 10 players off the court lose to people whose names we wouldn't even know if they hadn't beat Kvitova? SMH.

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