Tennis Courts – Image Courtesy: Bill David Brooks
Winning a Grand Slam is perhaps the dream of every professional tennis player out there â€“ a title that will take them to the pinnacle of the sport. Though most of the best players make it to the top of world rankings, achieving a Grand Slam remains unconquered for many.
Whether it is sheer bad luck, lack of physical form, low self-belief, or lack of mental focus that prevents them from clinching the most sought-after title in the game of tennis, following is a list of five great tennis players who fell short of winning a Grand Slam title.
1. Tim Henman
Until Andy Murray started ruling the court, Tim Henman was one of the most successful male tennis players Britain had ever produced. A former long-time British no.1 and former world no.4 (2002), Timothy Henry Henman is â€œregarded as one of the best players not to win a Grand Slamâ€ according to his Wikipedia entry.
Whether it was his bad luck or the fact that he lived in the era of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, Tim Henman made it to six Grand Slam semi-finals, but fell short of winning even a single. He reached the Wimbledon semi-finals four times and also made it to the semis at the U.S Open and the French Open. He came two points close to winning the Wimbledon in 2001 where he beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals but eventually lost a five-set match to wild card holder Goran Ivanisevic, who later went on to defeat Pat Rafter in the finals.
2. Marcelo Rios
An exceptional tennis player, Chilean Marcelo Rios is known to be the only player in tennis history so far to get to world no.1 ranking without winning even a single Grand Slam title. Also known as â€œEl Chinoâ€, Marcelo Rio was a genius on the court, who reached world no.1 in March 1998 and remained on the spot for six weeks.
Throughout his career, Rios won 18 single titles and also reached one Grand Slam final â€“ the 1998 Australian Open, wherein as the ninth seed he was defeated by sixth-seeded Czech Petr Korda in straight sets. Rios became world no.1 in 1998 at the age of 22 after defeating Andre Agassi in straight sets at the key Biscayne finals. Whether it was sheer bad luck, lack of mental focus, or physical shortcomings that prevented him from clinching a Grand Slam, Marcelo Rios is still considered to be one of the most talented players in the history of tennis.
3. Nikolay Davydenko
One of the best players to never make it to a Grand Slam title, Nikolay Davydenko was one player who could defeat just about anyone when he was in his zone. The Russian former world no.3 (2006) who was known to be equally strong on clay courts as well as hard courts has reached the semi-finals of four Grand Slam tournaments, twice each at the French Open and the U.S Open. From the four Grand Slam titles he lost, three he lost against Roger Federer.
Davydenkoâ€™s biggest victory came in 2009 when he won the ATP World Tour Finals. He is known for his solid ground strokes and his untiring stamina, which made even the most physical of opponents fear him. Furthermore, the Russian is the only active player to have faced Rafael Nadal more than once, boasting of a positive 6-4 head to head against the Spaniard.
4. David Nalbadian
An Argentine former world no.3 (2006), David Nalbadian is considered to be amongst the greatest tennis players of all time. In his entire career, Nalbadian has made it four times to the fourth round, five times to the quarterfinals, four times to the semifinals, and once to the finals. Known to have one of the strongest double-handed backhands on tour, Nalbadian is one of the few players who could take down Nadal and Federer.
The closest he reached to a Grand Slam title was the 2002 Wimbledon finals where unfortunately he lost to Lleyton Hewitt. Whether it was lack of hard work or injuries that stopped him from grabbing a Grand Slam, David Nalbadian was unstoppable on any given day and definitely one of the most talented tennis players ever.
5. Todd Martin
Todd Martin was an American professional tennis player who was a popular name during the 1990â€™s. In his career spanning 14 years, Martin was known for his one-handed powerful backhand, his wide-swinging, and his volley abilities. He dominated the 1990â€™s scene along with Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, and only got his breakthrough in 1994 when he reached the Grand Slam finals of the Australian Open taking on Pete Sampras. However, it was Pete Samprasâ€™s day, who won the game in straight sets.
His next moment came during 1999 when he reached a career high of world no.4 after reaching the finals of the U.S Open, which he eventually lost to Andre Agassi. However, Martin will always be remembered for leading America to victory during the 1995 Davis Cup, and of course, for his invaluable contribution towards menâ€™s tennis.
James Willis, the author of this article, is part of the team with,Â Tennis Coaching.com, a website providing the best training and support for tennis. He is an ardent tennis fan and enjoys participating in amateur tournaments in the city.