Re: Best player to never win a slam

Surely unsuccessful slam finalists should be considered
starting to compile a list of slam finalists who never won the big one... (did I miss any at 2 or more?)

Risely 3 (1903 W, 1904 W, 1906 W)
FHunter 3 (1923 W, 1928 U, 1929 U)
Hopman 3 (1930 A, 1931 A, 1932 A)
Austin 3 (1932 W, 1937 F, 1938 W)
Sturgess 3 (1947 F, 1948 U, 1951 F)

Eaves 2 (1895 W, 1897 U)
Roper Barrett 2 (1908 W, 1911 W)
HParker 2 (1907 A, 1913 A)
Washer 2 (1921 F, 1923 F - WHCC's)
Schlesinger 2 (1924 A, 1929 A)
Shields 2 (1930 U, 1931 W)
Talbert 2 (1944 U, 1945 U)
TBrown 2 (1946 U, 1947 U)
Flam 2 (1950 U, 1957 F)
Nielsen 2 (1953 W, 1955 W)
Hartwig 2 (1954 A, 1954 U)
Ayala 2 (1958 F, 1960 F)
Denton 2 (1981 A, 1982 A)
Curren 2 (1984 A, 1985 W)
Mecir 2 (1986 U, 1989 A)
Pioline 2 (1993 U, 1997 W)
TMartin 2 (1994 F, 1999 U)
Corretja 2 (1998 F, 2001 F)
Philippoussis 2 (1998 U, 2003 W)
Soderling 2 (2009 F, 2010 F)

Of these, I think Austin was probably closest to being a top player of his day.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Corretja definitely up there. He even won the WTF once no?

Champion: '16 Rey Saber, '16 & '14  Lord Vader, '14 King Droid, '14 Naboo Champion
Runner-Up: '13 Yoda Cup Guru, '15 & '13 Lord Vader, '15 Naboo Champion
Yoda Crew player of the year: '16 & '14
YC Wins: '12 & '13 Wimbledon

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Okker the Ferrer of his era?

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Definitely. True pioneer for Dutch tennis.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Quick question: Are there any male no.1s without a slam to their name?

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Marcelo Rios.

Champion: '16 Rey Saber, '16 & '14  Lord Vader, '14 King Droid, '14 Naboo Champion
Runner-Up: '13 Yoda Cup Guru, '15 & '13 Lord Vader, '15 Naboo Champion
Yoda Crew player of the year: '16 & '14
YC Wins: '12 & '13 Wimbledon

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Right... but outside his Oz Open final, his major results are above average at best.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

yeah, Rios didn't seem to thrive at the slams... would've thought he could've made more of a run at the French title at some point... maybe he was a head case...

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Truly tragic... had the all ability... just not sure he was the best player not to win a major...

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Yes I agree with you, I think their are stronger candidates...
In terms of pure talent, Tsonga may be the best...

Re: Best player to never win a slam

If there were no Big 4…

Nishikori would rule the world!

Here’s why.  I compared the head-to-heads of the current top 12 (substituting Tsonga for FLopez, since Jo-W has quite a history in the top 10).  After the Big 4 is, what I’m calling, the Next 8.  Here’s their h2h % against the rest of the top 12:

Nishikori    51.6%
Wawrinka    40.8%
Ferrer    38.2%
Tsonga    33.0%
Berdych    32.8%
Cilic            26.8%
Raonic    24.5%
Dimitrov    22.7%

Wawrinka has a slam title and Ferrer was in the top 5 for quite a while – is he the best player never to win a slam?  But I was surprised to see Kei at the top of this list.  He’s really blossomed in the last year, but I didn’t think that was enough time to top a career (so far) list.  That tells me he’s been at his winning ways for a while.

On the bottom end, Dimitrov and Raonic are distinctly not looking like world-beating talents about to seize the mantle from the Big 4.  Tsonga and Berdych are solidly mid-pack, which describes their careers neatly, and Cilic is, well, surprisingly good at times – does he even belong in this group?  Hard to leave him out with that slam title in his back pocket.

Looking at their records against just each other (the Next 8), the picture changes only slightly.
Nishikori    65.9%
Wawrinka    64.2%
Ferrer    54.3%
Tsonga    40.6%
Berdych    40.4%
Cilic    31.4%
Raonic    24.0%
Dimitrov    23.8%

The order is exactly the same, but Wawrinka moves much closer to Nishikori in percentage.  Kei’s been very good against his fellow 2nd stringers, but has suffered under the Big 4.  In fact, the best records against the Big 4 come from Ferrer, Tsonga, and Berdych, who have obviously learned a thing or two over the years.  Against Big 4:

Ferrer    29.4%
Tsonga    28.8%
Berdych    27.0%
Raonic    25.0%
Nishikori    23.8%
Wawrinka    22.4%
Cilic    22.2%
Dimitrov    21.7%

The one constant is that Dimitrov is bottom of the pack in every measure.  Perhaps he does not quite belong in this group.

Looking at the numbers put up by the Big 4 brings another layer of perspective.  They are very good.  They are a cut above the Next 8.  Against the rest of the Big 4:
Nadal    64.2%
Djokovic    51.4%
Federer    44.7%
Murray    35.3%

But it’s interesting to me how close Kei’s numbers are to Murray’s.  Kei actually edges out Murray vs the top 8, and that carries him to a slight advantage vs the top 12, too.  Versus Next 8:
Nadal    83.2%
Djokovic    81.7%
Federer    81.5%
Murray    65.0%
Nishikori    65.9%

And here are the numbers of the Big 4 against the whole top 12:
Nadal    73.7%
Djokovic    66.5%
Federer    62.9%
Murray    51.4%

The closeness of Kei to Murray vs the Next 8 and the Top 12 suggest that Kei is nearly in the same class as Murray, with the caveat that Kei trails vs the Big 4.  It makes me think it would be VERY surprising if Kei, with his talent and record, did not win a slam title at some point.  While Murray is clearly above the Next 8, he is also clearly behind the other 3 of the Big 4.  He, and possibly Kei, are occupying a middle ground between the two groups.

The other take away is that Nadal is clearly the top of this very elite field.  He’s untouchable in every category and is the only player with a winning record against every other player in this group of 12.  In fact he is the only slam winner in the open winner to not have a losing record against any other slam winner.

Here’s the detail:

01-Apr-15    Djo    Fed    Mur    Nad    Nis    Rao    Fer    Ber    Waw    Cil    Dim    Tso    wins
Djokovic        18    17    19    3    5    13    18    17    11    5    13    139
Federer    20        12    10    3    9    16    13    15    5    3    11    117
Murray    8    11        5    3    2    9    5    8    10    5    10    76
Nadal    23    23    15        7    5    22    18    12    2    5    8    140
Nishikori    2    2    1    0        5    7    3    1    5    2    4    32
Raonic    0    1    3    1    2        0    3    0    1    1    1    13
Ferrer    5    0    6    6    4    4        8    7    3    4    3    50
Berdych    2    6    6    4    1    1    5        5    6    2    5    43
Wawrinka    3    2    6    1    3    4    6    11        8    2    3    49
Cilic            0    1    2    1    3    1    1    4    2        1    3    19
Dimitrov    1    0    2    0    0    2    1    3    1    0        0    10
Tsonga    6    5    2    3    1    2    1    2    3    1    4        30
losses    70    69    72    50    30    40    81    88    71    52    34    61   

    wins    win%    v big4 wins    big 4 losses    big 4 %    next 8 wins    next 8 losses    next 8 %
Djokovic    139    66.5%    54    51    51.4%    85    19    81.7%
Federer    117    62.9%    42    52    44.7%    75    17    81.5%
Murray    76    51.4%    24    44    35.3%    52    28    65.0%
Nadal    140    73.7%    61    34    64.2%    79    16    83.2%
Nishikori    32    51.6%    5    16    23.8%    27    14    65.9%
Raonic    13    24.5%    7    21    25.0%    6    19    24.0%
Ferrer    50    38.2%    25    60    29.4%    25    21    54.3%
Berdych    43    32.8%    20    54    27.0%    23    34    40.4%
Wawrinka    49    40.8%    15    52    22.4%    34    19    64.2%
Cilic            19    26.8%    8    28    22.2%    11    24    31.4%
Dimitrov    10    22.7%    5    18    21.7%    5    16    23.8%
Tsonga    30    33.0%    17    42    28.8%    13    19    40.6%

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Truly amazing number-crunching and research, Dwight.  This was a joy to pore over.

Nadal doesn't have a losing record against anyone, does he?  I mean anyone he has played at least 2 or 3 times.

I've said since, like, 2011 that Nishikori was The Next Big Thing on the ATP Tour.  I know Isner just ate his lunch, but sometimes... you know, Isner just does that.  If Isner's serve and forehand are both clicking at the same time, forget it, he can beat anyone.  But it's Nishikori's consistency at a high level that's impressive, and when he stays healthy, he's capable of such great things.  But sometimes, I'm watching him, and... it's inexplicable and frustrating sometimes because he'll just kind of go away, and suddenly all his talent is gone and his strokes look like butt.  He's a fairly consistent winner, but at times he can be a real Jekyll & Hyde type.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

VAMOS RAFA! GO BHP!

2016 Wimbledon & 14 US Open Yoda Cup
2016 Wimbledon & 14 RG Alpha Cup
2012, 13 & 16 King Droid
15 Naboo Cup Champ 14 Lord Vader- RU

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Thanks Arvis!
Yes, Isner is a beast when he's on.  His physical advantage can seem almost insurmountable.  I know what you mean about Nishi playing like crap sometimes... like his final shot of this year's Australian Open, the failed drop shot...a real head scratcher.

I was almost as surprised by Wawrinka, as I was by Kei... 64.2% against his fellow middle-somethings... wow!  It's not like he's been in the top 10 forever like Ferrer and Berdych and Tsonga.

Will be interesting to see how Kyrgios, Coric, Kokkinakis, and maybe Rublev do against top players in coming years (and I haven't given up yet on Tomic either!)

Last edited by dwightcharles (Apr. 3, 2015 9:06pm)

Re: Best player to never win a slam

If anyone's interested... I was asked about the 'weak era' idea and if Graf was better than Navratilova.  My response is in the comments at the bottom of this article (on my opinion of Rod Laver's greatness), and is reproduced below.

http://tennisgut.blogspot.ca/2011/11/ca … -2010.html

It's an interesting question... Does a player's dominance over their contemporaries show how strong the player is or how weak their contemporaries are? In some ways it's unknowable. I generally favour the idea that the field gets deeper as time passes. The sheer number of players argues for that.

However, I think there is a crucial step that must happen in the psychology of any developing slam champion, especially a multiple-slam champion, and that is that they must become dominant fairly young. That may seem like stating the obvious, but I think that if 'opportunity' does not allow them to achieve dominance while they are young, they will never truly believe they deserve to be at the top so will not get there to stay.

We can see examples of this in the open era. It was only when Court and King were winding down their careers that Evert, Goolagong, and Navratilova emerged. And it was only when Evert and Navratilova were winding down their careers that Graf and Seles emerged. Coincidence? Consider this, Austin, Mandlikova, and Jaeger tried to emerge as top players around 1980, but were effectively shut down (after a brief flourish) by Evert and Navratilova who were 'not done yet' and dominated tennis for another 5-7 years.

What I mean is that up and coming young players who 'could' become top players may be stifled if there are particularly dominant players already in mid-career arc. It seems that the window for a top player 'to form' only exists for a few years as the old champs fade, then it shuts again until the new champs have had their careers. So in a way, top players create a weak era around them. The more dominant the player, the weaker the other players seem. Graf and Seles dominated and therefore Sabatini, MJFernandez, Sanchez Vicario, Martinez, and Capriati did not. But these others probably had the potential to be multi-year top players, but they missed the window... 'untimely born.'

That over-simplifies it somewhat, but I think there is some truth there. The same is true on the men's tour. It wasn't until Sampras and Agassi got old that Federer and Nadal could break through. A break through depends on a players talent, but it also depends on opportunity.

But I've dodged your question about Graf vs Navratilova. It's pretty likely that the sudden removal of Seles created an artificial vacuum that allowed Graf to dominate 1993-1996 in a way that she might not have. However she had already won a Grand Slam before Seles manifested, so her talent is undeniable. Graf succeeded in keeping down all other contenders, Sanchez Vicario the most significant, and thwarted Seles' comeback - Seles made her first two slam finals on returning.

The numbers between Graf and Navraitlova are extremely close. I have developed an all time ranking list based on 13 objective criteria that has Graf just edging out Court and Navratilova, so I'll go with that. Maybe some day I'll post and/or discuss it here. Incidentally, Serena is currently #4 on that list.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Dwight, I'm really interested! I've created a tennis index which tries to compare different players of different times. Although I only use 4 criterias, I also get Graf on top and Serena on fourth. I would love to see your ranking list and which criterias you use. If you want to see what I did, the link is here:
http://www.hundredtennisstats.com/2014/ … .html#more

Re: Best player to never win a slam

You guys rock! Really interesting stuff!

Champion: '16 Rey Saber, '16 & '14  Lord Vader, '14 King Droid, '14 Naboo Champion
Runner-Up: '13 Yoda Cup Guru, '15 & '13 Lord Vader, '15 Naboo Champion
Yoda Crew player of the year: '16 & '14
YC Wins: '12 & '13 Wimbledon

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Arvis wrote:

Truly amazing number-crunching and research, Dwight.  This was a joy to pore over.

Nadal doesn't have a losing record against anyone, does he?  I mean anyone he has played at least 2 or 3 times.

I've said since, like, 2011 that Nishikori was The Next Big Thing on the ATP Tour.  I know Isner just ate his lunch, but sometimes... you know, Isner just does that.  If Isner's serve and forehand are both clicking at the same time, forget it, he can beat anyone.  But it's Nishikori's consistency at a high level that's impressive, and when he stays healthy, he's capable of such great things.  But sometimes, I'm watching him, and... it's inexplicable and frustrating sometimes because he'll just kind of go away, and suddenly all his talent is gone and his strokes look like butt.  He's a fairly consistent winner, but at times he can be a real Jekyll & Hyde type.

I think Rafa still has a losing record against Davydenko, but I'm not sure he counts anymore... I hope his level picks up for the French!!!

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Ferrer by far. Whenever he was healthy, Ferrer was the most consistent player outside the big four. His best year being 2013 when he reached the finals of the French, semis in Melbourne, and the quarterfinals of the US open and Wimbledon. He could have won the 2013 French Open if Nadal wasn't standing in his way.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

I'm inclined to agree with you, jginz, because.... because David Ferrer is AWESOME!!

He's not long for this world, though.  I'm really going to miss that guy.  He deserved so much better than he got.  I think his tragic loss to Murray in the Miami Masters is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen.  Would have been the moment of his career to win one of the most prestigious Masters tournaments over a member of the Big 4.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Sorry I didn't see this thread at the time, but it's interesting enough I thought I'd revive it long enough to add:
I remember Tom Okker well.  He was the David Ferrer of his day.  Beat everybody he should beat, nearly always lost to the guys ahead of him.  I don't consider it surprising in the least that neither of them ever won a slam.  Not enough weapons.  To me, it's more surprising that Todd Martin never won.  It's even more surprising that Gaston Gaudio did. 

But I believe the hands-down winner of the best never to win a slam Is Marcelo "El Chino" Rios.  Nick Bollettieri, whose academy produced an absurd number of top players, both men and women, has repeatedly said that Rios was the most talented player who ever came to his academy.  Based on talent alone, I believe he is top 10 of all time.  He is also, unquestionably, the worst head case and most offensive jerk ever to set foot on a court -- and that includes some spectacular head cases and total bastards.  The ONLY reason he didn't win multiple slams and remain #1 for years lies between his left ear and his right ear.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

Arvis wrote:

Nadal doesn't have a losing record against anyone, does he?  I mean anyone he has played at least 2 or 3 times.

Davydenko finished 6-5 against Rafa.
Novak is currently 26-23.

Re: Best player to never win a slam

I think at the time I wrote that post Novak was still closing the gap.  Maybe.