A career Grand Slam is the holy grails of modern day tennis.
While Rod Laver, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic complete the elite list of winning all the four Slams at least once in their lifetime in the Open era, there are many a few names who faltered at the final hurdle, i.e, failed to win the major that eluded them for good.
The current US Open champion, Stan Wawrinka, at present is one such personality on the verge of a career Grand Slam at the Wimbledon. However, the Swiss world number three is yet to go beyond the quarter-finals at the all-England club – having reached the last eight twice in 2014 and 2015.
As the “Stanimal” launches his campaign to sneak into the ultimate pages of tennis glory, let us sneak through a few names from the older sheets of tennis history who have failed to get going for the final glory at the Big W.
#5 Mats Wilander, a former number one, remained aloof from the Wimbledon glory. The Swede won a total of 7 Grand Slams – three coming each at Melbourne and Paris while he did manage to win one at last at the USO but it was the English summer that remained an unsolved misery for the controversial great. The youngest to win the Australian Open since 1968 and the first to win the French on debut however fell thrice at the London quarters between 1987 and 1989 – in what were his best show in grass. Quite an absentee for the particular major, Wilander can hardly boast of anything of much significance here at the All-England having lost all quarters to lower ranked opponents and won just a set in all. Like Pete Sampras for Paris, perhaps this too was a career Slam that was never meant to be.
#4 Monica Seles, who was a case of one story that could better have been retold, was one of the biggest names in early 1990s when she won eight majors in a span of three years and challenging the hegemony of Steffi Graf. A knife-attack by a fanatic came as a major hurdle soon after and later she could only add another Australian Open to her kitty in 1996 after a two-year hiatus. The former number one reached the quarters five but could only progress beyond to make the finals in 1992 when she was mauled by Graf in a lop-sided 6-2, 6-1 for the German’s fourth Wimbledon title. The left-hander from Yugoslavia – who later immigrated to the United States – won four Australian Open, three French and two USO.
#3 Ivan Lendl, the Czech with a second-best 94 career titles and a contemporary of Wilander, won eight majors. He won three straight titles at the US Open, picked up another three Roland Garros in his hey days before winning two Australian Open titles later. Yet, Wimbledon never came to him – although he reached seven semi-finals in eight seasons between 1983 and 1990. Coming to the two consecutive finals that he played the young prodigy Boris Becker cut him short in 1986 while Pat Cash came out of nowhere to stall him the next year. However, Lendl who coaches the current world number one Andy Murray in two spells of major success was finally relieved of his missing Wimbledon as his disciple lifted it twice under his guidance in 2013 and 2016 respectively.
#2 Justine Henin-Hardenne, one of the most consistent tennis stars from the last decade besides the Williams sisters, too never won the Wimbledon. The four time French winner, however, was no bunny on grass, having played five semis at the All-England. The seven time Grand Slam winner made two finals as well – the first resulted in a three-set defeat to Venus Williams. The other came in 2006 when she reached all the finals of the majors. An early lead against Amelie Mauresmo however proved short-lived as the French lady would pull back for revival – thwarting the Belgian to keep her hands off the Slam missing in her trophy cabinet.
#1 Ken Rosewall, the Australian great who boast of winning his home Slam at 18 and 37 years age and hence both the youngest and oldest champion, never won the prestigious grasscourt tournament. In a career that was extended over the pre and post Open era, Rosewall won a total of eight majors – four at Australia and two each at the French and the USO. However, Rosewall came as agonizingly close to winning the Wimbledon as many as four times in his long career – twice before and twice after 1968. In 1954, he lost his first final against Jaroslav Drobny in four tough sets. A couple of years later, he would once again go down – this time to compatriot Lew Hoad. After almost a decade, he would renew his journey at the Open era – John Newcombe in a five-setter in 1970 and four years later to a one-sided match against Jimmy Connors.
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