Tennis

The very best WTA gamers by no means to win a Grand Slam singles championship

The controversy about one of the best participant to by no means win a Grand Slam has added poignancy now that the French Open, initially slated to begin this week, is postponed and Wimbledon has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The subject has turn out to be much more compelling in an period dominated by the ATP’s Huge Three and Serena Williams. That quartet has been the driving power behind the addition of a slew of latest contenders on that quick record of “no-Slam wonders” (versus these “one-Slam wonders”).

Tennis and Olympics commentator Mary Carillo dropped a worthwhile perception when she instructed ESPN.com that the decline in floor specialists — as soon as a staple of the excursions — appears to have had a major impression on removing the ranks of champions.

“The Grand Slam champions in current reminiscence can win at each main, which signifies that there aren’t quite a bit up for grabs,” Carillo stated. “In a unique time, [John] Isner might need gained a Wimbledon by now and [Elena] Dementieva might have gained a hard-court main. Not anymore.”

We have already appeared on the ATP’s contenders for that doubtful “no-Slam wonders” title, so it is time to take a look at the WTA record ranked alphabetically. Lively gamers will not be included:

Rosie Casals (1968-1991)

Profession-high rating: No. 55
Grand Slams: US Open finals 1970, 1971; Wimbledon semifinals, 4 occasions; Australian Open semifinals
Profession finals W-L: (incomplete file), gained Tour Championships

Certain, this goes approach again within the Open period. However Casals was a rarity, in response to a few of our specialists. Her singles file is woefully incomplete, so we can’t guess at it. However Casals gained quite a few titles in a profession that ended simply six wins shy of the magic 600 quantity. She is also a member of the Worldwide Tennis Corridor of Fame.

Those that noticed “Rosebud” play nonetheless recall being blown away by the talents of the 5-foot-2 daughter of El Salvadorian immigrants who realized the sport from an uncle on the general public courts of San Francisco.

“Rosie was a small package deal in measurement, however she had the center of a fierce lion in the way in which she competed,” stated Katrina Adams, a former doubles standout and up to date president and CEO of the USTA. “She was a serve-and-volleyer and will play from wherever on the court docket.”

Casals additionally was an distinctive doubles participant. She was 9-12 in Grand Slam doubles finals, all however a kind of 9 wins in partnership with Billie Jean King. With 112 doubles titles, she trails solely Martina Navratilova on the all-time record. That is vital, as a result of Casals performed at a time when all the highest gamers took half in doubles.

Execs: Casals was some of the inventive of all gamers, prepared to strive any shot at any time, from wherever on the court docket. She had a wonderful kick serve, and her one-handed slice backhand volley was distinctive.

Cons: She was 5-2. It was an amazing drawback for somebody who insisted on enjoying dangerous, attacking tennis. She was weak to the lob and, as Adams stated, ” I am sure that if Rosie had a pair extra inches on her, she would not have been handed a lot on the internet.”

Wrap: Casals as soon as stated: “I am not a disciplined participant. I do not play the pictures which are there, however the pictures that I really feel.” Had she not performed within the lengthy shadows solid by Margaret Courtroom and King, Casals most probably would have gained a number of singles Slam titles.


Profession-high rank: No. 3
Grand Slams: French remaining, 2004; US Open remaining, 2004; three US Open semifinals, two Wimbledon semifinals; one French and one Australian semifinal
Profession finals W-L: 16-16; Olympic singles gold medalist, 2008

This 5-11 left-handed Russian was one of many prime decisions amongst our pundits. As ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe stated, “Dementieva was very sturdy but additionally extremely fast. She created actual energy from the baseline and all the time appeared like one of many fittest ladies on the tour. With a extra constant serve, who is aware of what she might have completed.”

Dementieva was a part of a gifted era of Russian gamers that additionally included former No. 1 Dinara Safina and former French Open champion Anastasia Myskina. Within the three-year span ending together with her retirement in 2010, Dementieva made 5 main semifinals and one quarterfinal within the 11 majors she entered.

The apex of Dementieva’s profession occurred in the summertime of 2008 on the Olympic Video games in Beijing, the place she gained a grueling three-set, gold-medal battle with Safina. In some locations, together with Russia, Olympic gold is much more worthwhile than a Grand Slam title.

Execs: Dementieva’s working forehand was unparalleled. A tough, flat shot, it was complemented by a gradual, equally spin-free backhand. Though she was internet shy, she was athletic sufficient to play two semifinals and a quarterfinal at Wimbledon.

Cons: Plain and easy, it was Dementieva’s serve. She whacked 10 double faults within the French Open remaining of 2004, permitting her compatriot, good friend, and underdog, Myskina, to win. In her gold-medal match 4 years later, Dementieva put nearly 70% of her first serves into play to win.

Wrap: Brad Gilbert summed up her case: “An Olympic gold, two Grand Slam finals, all types of main quarterfinals, how do you argue with that? It is wonderful how good she was, even with that terrible serve.”


Mary Joe Fernandez (1986-2000)

Profession-high rating: No. 4
Grand Slams: Australian Open remaining, 1990, 1992; French Open remaining, 1993; three further main semifinals
Profession finals W-L: 7-9, WTA Tour Finals champion, 1996; Olympic singles bronze medal, 1992

Fernandez is an ESPN analyst, a two-time Olympic gold medalist (doubles, 1992, 1996), a former U.S. Fed Cup group captain, and half of one of many main energy {couples} in tennis. Her husband, Tony Godsick, is the longtime supervisor of Roger Federer. She’s tennis royalty, however her profile has remained remarkably low.

A heralded prodigy, in 1985 Fernandez grew to become the youngest participant to win a main-draw match on the US Open. A heralded prodigy, in 1985 Fernandez grew to become the youngest participant to win a main-draw match on the US Open. It was eight days previous her 14th birthday. Her sport and unflappable demeanor earned her a right away repute because the “subsequent Chris Evert,” however she had the misfortune to spend most of her profession within the lengthy shadow solid by Steffi Graf, who stopped Fernandez within the Australian Open remaining.

Probably the most memorable match in Fernandez’s lengthy profession was her 1993 French Open quarterfinal with Gabriela Sabatini, who jumped to a 6-1, 5-1 lead earlier than Fernandez mounted a tremendous comeback to win after 3½ hours, 10-Eight within the third set. Within the remaining, Fernandez as soon as once more met her nemesis, Graf. The German star gained all 17 of the matches in opposition to Fernandez.

Execs: Fernandez was a wonderful returner and grasp of protection, with rock-steady groundstrokes anchored in a flexible backhand that she hit down the road to nice impact. Her self-control and composure had been excellent. She was additionally an excellent doubles participant who claimed the gold in two Olympics.

Cons: Whereas cell, Fernandez wasn’t blazing quick. Her serve was there for the taking, and her consistency could not absolutely compensate for a fundamental lack of energy.

Wrap: Fernandez was a diligent, cool competitor who excelled at unnerving opponents together with her consistency.


Zina Garrison (1982-1997)

Profession-high rating: No. 4
Grand Slams: Wimbledon remaining, 1990; 4 further semifinals
Profession finals W-L: 14-22, Olympic singles bronze medal and doubles gold medal, 1988

Garrison and Lori McNeil each emerged from the general public courts of Houston to achieve wonderful heights with the assistance of coach John Wilkerson. One in all seven youngsters, Garrison was hailed as “the following Althea Gibson” when she gained the U.S. women’ 18 title. She missed her commencement from Ross Sterling Excessive Faculty as a result of she was enjoying the French Open — the one Grand Slam the place she didn’t make no less than a semifinal (she was a quarterfinalist within the first yr of her professional profession, 1982).

Garrison went on to finish up ranked No. 6 in wins on the all-time record for grass and indoor carpet (throughout Garrison’s peak years, indoor carpet was a typical floor on the Virginia Slims tour). Though she gained Olympic gold in doubles, she had nice success however by no means gained a serious doubles title. Garrison additionally performed on two successful Fed Cup groups, and is a former captain of that squad.

The match of her profession was undoubtedly Wimbledon in 1990. She had grueling, three-set wins over two iconic gamers, Monica Seles and Graf, however ran out of steam when she met Navratilova, dropping their straight-sets remaining.

Execs: Garrison moved extraordinarily nicely, with a low middle of gravity that applied her major technique: Attending to the web, usually through chip-and-charge techniques. Her slice backhand was terrific, as had been her volley and smash.

Cons: Garrison’s serve — particularly the second supply — was weak. Her forehand was not as stable as her backhand.

Wrap: Within the pre-Williams sisters period, it wasn’t straightforward to satisfy the expectations of these in search of one other African American champion. Early in her profession, Garrison had hassle dealing with the concomitant stress. After her huge upset of Seles at Wimbledon in 1990, Garrison stated: “Psychologists [once] used me as a textbook instance of emotionally getting upset beneath stress.”


Profession-high rating: No. 1
Grand Slams: US Open remaining, 2008; six further semifinals
Profession finals W-L: 15-21, gained 4 prime degree WTA occasions

Shortly after the fluid Serbian reached the No. 1 rating, she returned to the IMG Academy to relaxation and practice. “After I congratulated her,” Jimmy Arias, director of tennis there recalled, “Jelena checked out me, she laughed and stated, ‘I do know, I do know, however I by no means gained a Grand Slam.'”

Jankovic’s finest likelihood got here on the 2008 US Open, however in that remaining she ran afoul of Serena Williams. She was a prolific winner, grabbing titles on each floor with 644 profession match wins. Her 409 wins on exhausting court docket is nice for seventh on the all-time record.

Jankovic was a sophisticated competitor. She led Justine Henin Hardenne by 6-4, 4-2 (with some extent for 5-2) within the 2006 US Open semifinals when she acquired into a chronic dispute with chair umpire Enric Molina. She in the end misplaced the sport and by no means gained one other.

Execs: Jankovic’s signature shot was her very good down-the-line backhand. Her strokes had been almost flat and flowing and carried severe sting. An excellent athlete, her liquid motion enabled her to play nice protection.

Cons: The serve got here and went at occasions, and it had an outsized impression within the matches she misplaced. Her best flaw was the tendency to undermine herself and lose focus.

Wrap: Jankovic had a moth-to-flame relationship with main titles, true sufficient, however she had a lot expertise that it is a bit shocking that she by no means gained one.


Profession-high rating: No. 2
Grand Slams: Wimbledon remaining, 2012; two-time Australian Open semifinalist
Profession finals W-L: 20-8, together with a win on the WTA Tour Finals in 2015

It was straightforward at first look to underestimate this right-hander from Poland. As former British No. 1 and Sky TV commentator Anabel Croft stated, “She had a lot expertise and a superb tennis mind. You could possibly all the time be taught from her skill to maneuver opponents across the court docket. I loved watching her [brand of] cat-and-mouse tennis.”

Radwanska was a mannequin of consistency all through a prolific profession that earned her 594 wins, which helped put her within the WTA’s all-time to prime 10 in profession earnings (almost $27.7 million) on the time of her retirement.

Execs: Her trademark was the unique “squat shot,” her approach of fielding quick pictures that landed near her toes. Aficionados had been enthralled by Radwanska’s deft contact, intelligent shot-making, and easy model. Adams calls her one of many “best anticipators” the sport has seen in current occasions. Her grasp of technique and techniques was unmatched, constructed round her defensive talents and a capability to seek out or create open areas throughout rallies.

Cons: The principle cause Radwanska by no means gained a serious in all probability was her serve, which had no pop. As guileful as she was, she was not absolutely in a position to make up for an absence of energy.

Wrap: Radwanska’s skill to captivate spectators was a uncommon, unteachable reward. “She by no means had the facility to beat the large hitters,” Adams stated. “However she was a genius on court docket.”


Dinara Safina (2000-2011)

Profession-high rating: No. 1
Grand Slams: French Open finalist, 2008, 2009; Australian Open finalist, 2009; Wimbledon and US Open semifinalist
Profession finals W-L: 12-12, Olympic silver medalist in 2008

Safina and her brother, Marat Safin, are the one brother and sister to each attain the highest of the singles rankings. She was a gradual starter who did not crack the highest 10 till 2008, as soon as saying, “Being the little sister in such a giant tennis household (Safina’s father was tennis director of Moscow’s famed Spartak Membership) isn’t a simple state of affairs. Perhaps that is why it took me longer to develop … [I] needed to be one thing on my own, like being a giant participant on my own. So initially I used to be placing an excessive amount of stress on myself.”

The wrestle with expectations, self-imposed and exterior, hounded the almost 6-foot professional for her complete profession. It is in all probability the principle cause Safina, for all her energy, by no means gained a Grand Slam singles title (she’s a US Open doubles champion). “Together with her energy, peak, willpower and imposing floor strokes, Safina gave the impression to be the entire package deal and a burgeoning famous person,” espnW author D’Arcy Maine stated. “However on the most important of levels, she might by no means appear to complete the job.”

Nonetheless, Safina packed quite a lot of successful into a quick window as an elite participant, claiming all six of her titles whereas ranked within the prime 10 between 2008 and the tip of 2009. A continual again harm that surfaced in January 2010 ended her profession by Could 2011.

Execs: Safina was a slugger who took the ball on the rise, hitting piledriver groundstrokes off each wings. She used her forehand very successfully, hitting acute angles to set herself up for successful blasts. She additionally had highly effective serve.

Cons: Whereas a wonderful doubles participant, Safina was not fast sufficient in singles to do a lot injury up on the internet together with her volley. Her serve, whereas huge, would break down once in a while. However her best obstacle was her nerves.

Wrap: The loss to Serena Williams within the Australian Open was comprehensible, however she additionally failed to shut the deal on two events on the French Open in opposition to beatable opponents: fellow first-time Grand Slam finalist Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova. Each losses had been in straight units, memorable for Safina’s wrestle with nerves. The loss to Dementieva on the 2008 Olympics in Sydney was no less than a extra aggressive match.


Helena Sukova (1983-1998)

Profession-high rating: No. 4
Grand Slams: US Open remaining, 1985, 1993; Australian Open remaining, 1984, 1989; one semifinal and 11 main quarterfinals
Profession finals W-L: 9-20, two Olympic silver medals in doubles

One other instance of worldwide tennis royalty, Sukova’s mom, Vera, was a Wimbledon singles finalist in 1962, and her father, Cyril Suk II, was president of the Czechoslovak Tennis Federation earlier than the breakup of that nation. A brother, Cyril Suk III, had a stable profession as an ATP professional. Sukova has been inducted into the Worldwide Tennis Corridor of Fame.

At 6-2 with lengthy arms and broad shoulders, it was solely pure that Sukova would gravitate to a slam-bang model of energy baseline tennis. The gusto with which she did that carried her very near the highest of the sport. Her proficiency in doubles, which earned her the No. 1 rating for 44 weeks in 1991, typically dimmed her singles accomplishments.

Execs: A right-hander, Sukova walloped the serve and forehand. She had a wonderful volley, as evidenced by her doubles success, and moved nicely.

Cons: Her huge, crazy strokes featured quite a lot of shifting elements that might be damaged down beneath stress. Her one-handed backhand was harmful however not all the time constant.

Wrap: Sukova reached 4 main finals, which proves she was no fluke. When she was scorching, she was torrid. Sukova ended Navratilova’s 69-match grass-court win streak and was simply the fourth girl to defeat Navratilova and Evert in the identical match.

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