Gael Monfils at Wimbledon 2011.
The Olympus U.S. Open Series gets underway on Monday, signifying the beginning of the North American hard court summer. It is arguably the most grueling and equalizing part of the tennis season. It will give the players in this list another chance to finally prove themselves to tennis fans around the world.
From top-five players to ones ranked in the 100's, the men of the ATP and women of the WTA in this list have yet to claim their first Grand Slam title and break through on a major stage. These players have accomplished a lot throughout their tennis careers, but high rankings and winning smaller tournaments are not enough for many tennis fans and journalists.
They feel like high rankings and small tournament wins need to be validated with Grand Slam titles. Can these players take advantage of the surface and intense climate change and win the U.S. Open in New York? Let's get started with the list of players who will once again be in the hot seat this summer.
Gael Monfils at Wimbledon 2011.
The athleticism and shot-making ability of Gael Monfils have led many to believe he hasn't lived up to his full potential as a tennis player. Monfils currently has his career-high ranking of No. 7 in the ATP World Tour rankings, on its website.
He has won three career singles titles, in Sopot (2005), Metz (2009) and Montpellier (2010). He has a 2011 win/loss record of 19-7 and career win/loss record of 206-127.
Monfils turned pro in 2004, after being ranked the No. 1 junior in the world. Every pair of eyes in professional tennis was on him to be the next big thing.
He started off well, winning his first singles title in just his second season on the ATP World Tour. However, it took him another four years to win his second singles title. On top of that, none of his singles titles have come at above the 250 level.
On the Grand Slam level, his best showing was in 2008, where he made the semifinals at Roland Garros, losing to Roger Federer. He hasn't made it past the quarterfinals at a major since.
Caroline Wozniacki lost to Dominika Cibulkova at Wimbledon 2011.
Caroline Wozniacki is currently ranked No. 1 on the WTA Tour, according to its website. That sounds pretty impressive, right? It is, but it would be even more impressive if she had a Grand Slam singles title to her name as well.
In 2009, Wozniacki achieved her best result at a Grand Slam as a finalist at the U.S. Open, where she lost to Kim Clijsters. She was also a finalist at the WTA Tour Championships.
Last year, she was the Olympus U.S. Open Series winner, taking home the singles titles in New Haven and Montreal.
This season has been inconsistent for Wozniacki. She reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and won titles in Dubai, Indian Wells, Charleston, Brussels and Copenhagen. Then in April, she had back-to-back unexpected losses as the top seed, both to Julia Goerges, in Stuttgart and Madrid.
A lot of pressure will be on Wozniacki this summer, as she heads back to the major tournament where she's had the most success.
Andy Murray made it to the semifinals of Wimbledon 2011.
Andy Murray is currently ranked No. 4 on the ATP World Tour according to its website.
This season, he made it to the singles final of the Australian Open and the semifinals of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. By the standards of his fellow competitors, this would be a more than acceptable season ,and it's only July.
However, unlike the men who join him in what has become known as "The Big Four," he has yet to win a major singles title. This makes Murray the weak link in that group.
He has a career-high ranking of No. 2 and has won 17 career singles titles. He's been on the brink of greatness this season, but tough losses to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the majors have halted his efforts.
Victoria Azarenka lost to eventual Ladies' Singles Champion, Petra Kvitova
Like Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka is ranked No. 4 in the world. Azarenka hasn't come as close to winning a major singles title, though.
Azarenka joined the WTA Tour in 2003 and didn't win her first Tour-level tournament until 2007, when she won the mixed doubles title at the U.S. Open with partner Max Mirnyi. The following year, she won her first Tour-level tournament in singles, in Brisbane as well Memphis and Miami according to the WTA Tour website.
Her best result in singles at a Grand Slam came this year at Wimbledon, when she lost in the semifinals to eventual champion, Petra Kvitova.
Azarenka has been plagued by injuries her entire (albeit brief) career. However, that's no excuse for not capitalizing on opportunities she's been given to win major titles while healthy. She's been known also for letting big and almost certain victories slip away.
Richard Gasquet lost to Andy Murray at Wimbledon 2011.
As a junior, Richard Gasquet had all of the promise you could hope for in a future professional tennis player. In 2002, he was the No. 1 junior in the world and World Junior Champion. Gasquet won the junior U.S. Open and Roland Garros singles title. He was even featured on the cover of French Tennis Magazine, according to his ATP World Tour profile.
For someone with so much promise and expectation, Gasquet has been an underachiever. He's won six career singles titles and hasn't made it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon, in 2007.
However, Gasquet also reached a career high ranking of No. 7 that year. He is currently ranked No. 11 on the ATP World Tour.
Dinara Safina, in March 2011.
Two years ago, Dinara Safina was ranked No. 1 on the WTA Tour. With her current place in the game, you wouldn't be able to imagine that. Especially given the hype, expectations and pressure she's received as two-time Grand Slam singles champion, Marat Safin's sister.
Safina is currently ranked No. 70 in singles, on the WTA Tour according to their website. According to a May 12 article on the ESPN website, Safina is taking a break from tennis "in hopes of recovering from chronic back pain."
Safina is one of the players to have been criticized for being ranked No. 1 without ever winning a Grand Slam singles title, despite playing in three finals.
In 2008, she reached the French Open final. In 2009, she made it to the final of the Australian Open and French Open. She lost in the first round of the Australian Open this year, the only major she competed in this year.
David Ferrer won two matches to help defeat the United States in the 2011 Davis Cup Quarterfinal last weekend.
David Ferrer is currently ranked No. 6 on the ATP World Tour, two spots below his highest career ranking, according to their website.
Ferrer has won 11 career singles titles, two this year alone. Since turning pro in 2000, he has also been in eight singles finals.
Ferrer started off 2011 with a bang, making it to the Australian Open semifinals, defeating World No. 1 Rafael Nadal along the way. However, his other two major results weren't acceptable. He reached the fourth round of Roland Garros and the third round of Wimbledon.
His fortune in 2011 changed once again last weekend, when he scored two singles wins in the Davis Cup quarterfinal against Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish of the United States.
His competitive spirit, powerful serve, groundstrokes and counter-punching abilities should be enough to win a Grand Slam singles title. Ferrer has failed to make that happen so far though.
He made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2007, so we'll see if he's able to reclaim his form in New York.
Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon 2011
Jelena Jankovic isn't the Serbian tennis player considered to be a Grand Slam contender these days. She is ranked No. 15 on the WTA Tour and has won no titles so far this season according to the WTA Tour website.
Overall, Jankovic has won 12 career singles titles and one doubles title. None of those have come at the Grand Slam level. She is another player that has been ranked No. 1 in the world and has no major title to her name.
In 2008, she made it to the final of the U.S. Open. It is there and the French Open that she's had the most success at the Grand Slam level.
Three years after her run to the final, she'll be looking to finally validate her place in tennis.
Donald Young at Wimbledon 2011.
This is perhaps not a surprise to anyone. Donald Young has had a lot of the criticism when it comes to underachieving tennis players.
Young is currently ranked No. 105 on the ATP World Tour. His career-high ranking isn't much better, No. 73. A feat he accomplished in 2008.
According to his ATP World Tour profile, at age 15, he became the youngest ever World No. 1 junior. He won the 16-and under title at the Orange Bowl in 2003 and the 18-and under in 2004. In 2007, he won the junior Wimbledon title.
Young has had some success, on the ATP Challenger level. On the Grand Slam level however, he's never been past the second round.
Andrea Petkovic at Wimbledon 2011.
Andrea Petkovic is a fairly new face to the WTA Tour. She didn't become a professional tennis player until 2006 and has progressed at a steady but slow pace.
Petkovic is currently ranked No. 11 on the WTA Tour. She has won only two Tour-level singles titles, one coming this year.
On the Grand Slam level, Petkovic has reached the quarterfinals for the first time this year, at the Australian Open and French Open.
She is a fan favorite due to her outgoing, carefree, fun personality. Her YouTube videos and post-victory dance routines are popular amongst fans worldwide.
However, her tennis results don't match her personality.