Double Bagel: The Most Mentally Weak Female Tennis Players in the 21st Century

Michael CasentiCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2011

Double Bagel: The Most Mentally Weak Female Tennis Players in the 21st Century

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    Dinara Safina—one of the honorees on this list.
    Dinara Safina—one of the honorees on this list.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    We all know about Serena Williams, Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, et al., and their unbreakable mental games. But what about their opposites?

    Choking can happen any time: when up a set, when in a tight spot, or when close to the finish line. The following players are known for their theatrical performances on the tennis court—Romeo and Juliet, if you will.

Dinara Safina

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    Dinara Safina
    Dinara SafinaRyan Pierse/Getty Images

    At first glance, Marat Safin's sister does not seem like she would need an MRI scan. But a closer look at the stats, and the word "choke" repeats itself.

    Her achievements include three grand slam finals, World No. 1 and one grand slam semifinal

    The three grand slams that Safina tarnished were straight sets affairs, a walk in the park for her opponents. Safina actually did an excellent job in acquiring the No. 1 ranking. But today, she stands outside of the Top 100. 

    The major semifinal at Wimbledon was in fact a great result for Dinara Safina, until she actually played the match. One unforced error for Venus Williams, one bagel and one bread stick for Safina.

Elena Dementieva

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    Elena Dementieva
    Elena DementievaKoji Watanabe/Getty Images

    Elena Dementieva hails from Russia.  She has one Olympic gold medal, one Olympic silver medal, and two grand slam runner-up trophies. Oh, and that pesky title—best without a grand slam. 

    If her mental state hadn't been so dire, she could have possibly had four grand slam titles. She reached the 2004 French Open and US Open but couldn't handle the pressure and "new experience" in the final.  She suffered a beating in Paris, but she didn't learn a thing from that lesson. She lost in straight sets to Svetlana Kuznetsova (another head case) in the final. 

Svetlana Kuznetsova

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    Svetlana Kuznetsova
    Svetlana KuznetsovaMichael Regan/Getty Images

    The Russian Revolution truly is a revolution. Not only do we have Maria Sharapova, but we also have almost every other Russian with a not so Serena-esque mentality. Give it up to Svetlana Kuznetsova!  Kuzzy may have won two grand slam titles, but she won those two over none other than Safina and Dementieva. Shocker!

    Against the big guns—Sharapova, Henin, Clijsters, Serena, Venus, Davenport—she wilts under the pressure. Not only that, she suffers from streaky play. 

    What's happening to Russia?

Vera Zvonereva

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    Vera Zvonereva
    Vera ZvonerevaJulian Finney/Getty Images

    Vera Zvonereva is starting to come into her own, but we still can't deny her still developing emotional state. She wasn't able to take a set off of Serena Williams or Kim Clijsters in her first two major finals, and fans were disappointed after such lackluster performances? On whom should I put the blame on? 

    Vera Zvonereva—a sweet rose that wilts in the sun.

Kim Clijsters (1st Career)

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    Kim Clijsters
    Kim ClijstersRobert Prezioso/Getty Images

    Kim Clijsters!? Yes, at least in her "first career."  It's true she has four grand slam titles, but only one came from her first career. She has been to multiple major finals, but she was known as a choker in her early years.

    There are two prominent examples of her weak mental game: the 2001 French Open final and 2003 Australian Open semifinal. Even the 2001 French Open final was her first major final, and she easily beat Jennifer Capriati in the first set. Then she crumbled under the pressure in the second set. In the third set, she put a fight—losing 12-10—but could not pull through.

    In the Australian Open semifinals, against Serena Williams, she was up to 5-1 in the third set. She had two points, but could not convert them. The younger Williams sister won the third set, 7-5.