Marcos Baghdatis and Gael Monfils are mostly known for being the two guys who did not fulfill their true potential. A lot of potential in which on numerous occasions they have shown they have in abundance.
The ATP however could make a case of losing two very good opportunities to further enhance and market the image of the ATP world tour, and tennis in general.
Both players were ranked junior champions. First Baghdatis in 2003 and then Monfils in 2004. The former won the juniors Australian Open Grand Slam in 2003, while the latter won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon junior Grand Slams all in 2004.
In 2006 Baghdatis made a dream run to the Australian Open final, where on the way he beat the then ranked No. 3 seed Andy Roddick, No. 7 seed Ivan Ljubičić, and No. 4 seed David Nalbandian. In the final he met none other than Roger Federer where he eventually lost 5–7, 7–5, 6–0, 6–2. Baghdatis was one of the three people to take a set from Federer in the entire tournament.
In the same year he was also a Wimbledon semi-finalist losing to Nadal 6–1, 7–5, 6–3.
His highest ranking was No. 8 on the 21st of August, 2006.
In 2008 Monfils reached the semi-finals of the French Open beating the then 5th seed David Ferrer, and losing to Federer 2–6, 7–5, 3–6, 5–7. He also has a final appearance at the 2009 Paris Masters where he lost a close, tightly contested final to Novak Djokovic 2–6, 7–5, 6–7(3).
His highest ranking was No. 9 on the 2nd of March, 2009
Baghdatis has 4 singles titles (4-5 in finals) and Monfils has 2 (2-9 in finals).
So both players have huge amounts of talent. However, what is missing from them is the consistency at playing at the highest level.
If they were able to do this, they would then win more tournaments hence raising their tennis profile. The ATP could then in turn have used these two tennis stars to greater promote the tennis circuit.
A perfect example of how this works is how the ATP frequently uses Serena Williams, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic on different promotional exploits.
The latest case in point was when Nadal and Federer created art with their tennis rackets, which would then be sold on auction for charity.
Although both these champions are great ambassadors, they lack that certain flair that Baghdatis and Monfils contain.
Both Baghdatis and Monfils have big followings. When they are on court people usually gather around to see them. Most times they fill the stadiums they are playing in which is an organizers’ dream.
Both individuals connect with the crowds in unique ways, and together they create a totally new atmosphere. The mood within the stadium is one that reminds you of a soccer match. After any of these guys win a hard fought point, the crowd erupts which causes a different kind of excitement.
To add to this they both endear themselves to the world with their smile, their friendly antics and their overall persona. They huff and puff as well as making weird faces. Both constantly talk to themselves and sometimes to the crowd too!
They have exceptional personalities that they wear on their sleeve, and us as humans are naturally attracted to these types of people because we feel like we know the individuals personally (hence the huge success of reality TV).
If either of them was to win at least one or two slams, a new breed of fans would be drawn to the sport. This would then give the ATP further incentive to use them as promotional tools. These two players do not attract just the hardcore tennis fans like Nadal and Federer, but also the casual fans, who watch the sport only 4 times a year.
Tennis is trying to lose the tag of being an “Elitist Sport”. With these to gems they could achieve this goal quicker.