Andy Murray and Tennis' 10 Best Players Never to Win a Grand Slam Tournament
Grand Slams are the defining points of a person's tennis career. We remember Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf not just because they are very good players, but because they are great Grand Slam champions.
However, winning a Grand Slam requires luck more than anything. You need to be lucky if you can stand ahead of everyone at the end of the day.
Still, there are some great talents, perhaps like Andy Murray, who have never won a Grand Slam. Murray carries the hope of an entire nation every time he walks onto the court. It might be only a matter of time before he actually gets a title. Let us hope that he doesn't feature in this list for very long.
Here is a look back at the 10 best players who have never achieved the pinnacle in the sport of tennis.
10. Tommy Haas: Destined to Finish Second?
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The German-born turned American Tommy Haas reached an all-time-high world No. 2 ranking in 2002. He has reached the semifinals of Grand Slams four times in his career (thrice at Australia and once at Wimbledon). The Wimbledon semifinal was as recent as 2009, where he was put out by none other than Roger Federer.
It looks as if Haas is always destined to come second. Even in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he finished runner-up and got a silver medal.
2007 was a year where he looked at his best. But he lost out to a much less experienced Fernando Gonzalez in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Now, he has slipped out of the rankings altogether, and it looks as if he will never get back.
9. Dinara Safina: Fitness Can Cost You Dearly!
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Dinara Safina was one of the very few to be ranked No. 1 in the world and not win a Grand Slam title. She reached the finals of major tournaments not once but thrice and lost on each occasion.
She reached the finals of the French Open in 2008 and 2009 and the finals of the Australian Open in 2009 but lost on each occasion to Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serena Williams respectively.
Injuries and bad fitness cost this otherwise excellent player dearly. The sister of the great Marat Safin, she dropped out of the rankings and is now ranked below 100.
She is only 25, and her career is definetly not over. But it will be a Herculean task for her to come back and win a major now!
8. Caroline Wozniacki: When Will She Win a Major?
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As of now, she is the most consistent player on the WTA Tour and, of course, the world No. 1.
Caroline Wozniacki has all the ingredients in her to win multiple Grand Slams, and I would be shocked if she ends her career without one.
She is the youngest player in the top 10 of the world, and she is only 20. She really has a lifetime of opportunities ahead of her to win a major.
One of the main reason that players like Anna Kournikova lost in the tennis world was because they lacked the passion to win. That is not the case with Wozniacki. She desperately wants to win and be on top. That is a good sign.
She lost in the finals of the 2009 US Open to her good friend Kim Clijsters. From then on, she has never made it to a Grand Slam finals again.
What Wozniacki lacks is the mental toughness when it comes to big games against strong players. She beats them easily on a normal day, but the pressure of performing at the biggest stage makes her falter. You cannot really blame her, can you?
She is just this humble young girl who has to get some more experience. Let us hope that she plays tennis at the top level for years to follow and wins multiple majors.
7. Mark Philippoussis: The Prodigy That Never Was
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When Mark Philippoussis at the age of 20 shocked the whole world by defeating Pete Sampras in the third round of the 1996 Australian Open, many people thought that he was destined for greater things.
This big-serving Australian had everything in him to be a Grand Slam champion, but injuries and bad luck cost him dearly.
He did reach the finals of two Grand Slams. The first was in 1998, when he was defeated by his compatriot Pat Rafter in the finals of the US Open, and the next was in 2003, where Roger Federer defeated him to win his first-ever crown at the All England Club.
During his prime, he was considered the fastest server of the game. He later fell out of the rankings and lost his chance to win a major forever.
6. Tim Henman: The Lost Hope of Britain
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Well, what can you say about Henman? He was the greatest sporting disappointment of Britain in the Open Era. Also, he was arguably the best player of the Nation before Murray came along.
Between the years 1998 and 2004, Henman reached as many as six Grand Slam semifinals and failed to convert even a single one. He reached the All England Tennis club's semis four times, leaving the crowd disappointed each time.
He was arguably the most gifted serve-volley player of his time, and it will be quite hard to believe if I say that his best chance to win a major came on the clay of Paris.
Yes, in 2004, Henman played Guillermo Coria in the last four at Paris. He won the first set but then surrendered the game. If he had won it, he would have had the option to play the unseeded Gaston Gaudio in the finals. Yet it seems that he was never destined for a major.
We will always remember him for his Wimbledon exploits, won't we? In 2001, he came as close as two points within the finals, but then rain intervened, and Goran Ivanisevic went on to win that game and the title later on in the most dramatic fashion.
5. Elena Dementieva: Greatest Female Player Never to Win a Major?
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In the eyes of many tennis pundits, the tall Russian is arguably the best player to have never won a Grand Slam. There are not many who would disagree. She is well known for her 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal and has won 16 WTA titles.
She reached the semifinals of all the Grand Slams a total of five times and made it to the finals twice.
One has to say that a Grand Slam title is the only thing that is missing from Dementieva's otherwise impressive career. She had an athletic build, inch-perfect movement and a good game overall. It was really bad luck that prevented her from winning a major.
In 2010, she announced that she was going to retire no matter what happened, and she bowed out after the year-ending championships, when she was ranked world No. 9.
4. Amanda Coetzer: Remember Her?
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Amanda Coetzer's time at the pinnacle of women's tennis is oft forgotten. Why? It probably is because she never won a major.
This determined woman from South Africa was in tennis for almost three decades (1988-2004), yet we seldom remember her. She played three Grand Slam semifinals between 1996 and 1997 and was the first South African to do so.
She was ranked as high as No. 3 in 1997 and spent 10 whole years ranked in the top 10 between 1992 and 2002.
With this type of impressive record, it is really fateful that she never won a Grand Slam title to her name. It is even more fateful that some of us don't even remember her anymore.
3. Andy Murray: Will He Put an End to the British Drought?
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Great Britain has not had a Grand Slam champion for almost 75 years now. Andy Murray is probably the one they relied on the most to put an end to this. Murray surely has the talent to do it. But will he wind up on this list forever?
As mentioned earlier, you need luck to win Grand Slams, and Murray certainly lacks it. A certain Juan Martin del Potro can win it the first time but Murray can't win it in three attempts? That has got to say something about luck, people.
He was defeated by Federer in the finals of the 2008 US Open and 2010 Australian Open. He could defeat Federer on his day but not on the day of a major final. His latest hiccup was against Novak Djokovic in the finals of the 2011 Australian Open. However, the reason to that might be some awe-inspiring play by Novak.
Many cease to blame Murray for his hiccups because he is just 24 and carries the hope of an entire nation every time he walks into the court. True, but that is never going to end until and unless he puts everything behind and wins a major. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have commented that Murray has everything in him to be a major champion and his day will come one day or the other.
Murray, for his part, should take inspiration from Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and Goran Ivanisevic, who all went on to win majors after losing their first three finals.
2. Marcelo Rios: Outspoken and Controversial World No. 1
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Marcelo Rios was the first Latin American player to be ranked No. 1 in the ATP standings. He is also the only ATP player to never win a Grand Slam despite being ranked No. 1.
In spite of winning 18 ATP tour titles, he made it to the finals of a Grand Slam even on only one occasion, and that was in 1998, where he lost to Petr Korda.
He was in the No. 1 spot for over six weeks and never made it to the finals of a major again.
The often controversial and outspoken Rios definitely occupies a space in this list. His life lacked a major, but no doubt it didn't lack any controversies!
1. Miloslav Mečíř: Had Everything Else!
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We all remember Mečíř for winning the gold medal at the the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea. Mečíř has also made it to the semifinals of all the Grand Slams and two finals at the US Open and Australian Open in 1986 and 1989 respectively.
He arrived on the major scene when he defeated Stefan Edberg in straight sets at Wimbledon '86. He was later defeated by defending champion Boris Becker in the quarterfinals. The same year he made it to the finals of the US Open, where he was defeated by the great Ivan Lendl.
It was truly unfortunate that Mečíř had to play during the prime of Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl.
In his second major final at Australia in 1989, he was once again defeated in straight sets by Lendl.
Many people have suggested that Mečíř was one of the most technically gifted players of his time. He had an excellent touch and a great style of play.
We could say that Miloslav Mečíř had everything other than a major title!