As much as - if not more than - the number of grand slam winners in the ATP mens' tour are the people who had the potential to win a grand slam, but for a reason or two were not able to make it. The benchmark for appearing on this list is that they have proven themselves capable of beating those grand slam champions, so why fail when the greatest moments come? Here are 3 of such players and 3 reasons (1 each) we believe why they did not make it.
Number one on our list is Verdasco, for no other reason that his name always comes off first straight the top of our Rovo heads whenever our discussion comes around to this topic of great wasted talents. Fernando Verdasco is extremely talented, and a significant danger to any of the top Four. The most memorable manifestation of such danger was the 2009 Australian Open semi-final with Nadal, when he stretched Nadal to the limit in an epic semi-final which could possibly be one of the greatest grand slam semi-final matches of all time. His powerful and unconventional (we argue) serves and forehands could present considerable danger to players (especially if are those comfortable with settling into steady rallies). Not only are they powerful, Verdasco has a gift for shot-making ability given the precision of many winners. Couple that power and you get hell for anyone on the receiving end of such.
Why does he not live up to his potential: Verdasco does not really have strong and reliable mental muscle. He chokes on the big points and is often distracted (notice how he shanks his shots more often than others). All these are most likely due to his ADHD condition.
If precociousness would be defined as the main trait of talent, Richard Gasquet would be one of the most talented players ever to come to the ATP stage in tennis history, even more so than Federer. Gasquet was an astonishing young-starter - he made his professional debut in April 2002, at the Tennis Masters Series tournament at Monte Carlo where he received a wildcard into the qualifying rounds and became the youngest player ever to qualify for a Tennis Masters event. More impressively and within the very same year, he made his Grand Slam tournament debut at the 2002 French Open at the age of 15 years, 11 months, nine days. He was the second-youngest player ever to compete in the main draw there. Despite his lack of experience, he managed to take a set off the eventual champion Albert Costa in the first round. This is not the story of a young flame dying out by the time he matures, as his potential post-youth has been displayed by his reaching of various grand slam semifinals.
Why does he not live up to his potential: Gasquet does not have a whole game in the sense that his forehand is relatively weak. Although dependable when keeping the rally in play is concerned, it is unable to produce much aggression and is something the top guns could pounce given the chance.
Of the three, Tsonga is the most whole player here. He is solid in all aspects of the game - a backhand that although weaker than the forehand has an offensive capability, an aggressive yet consistent forehand, good accurate serves and a stable mental muscle. His potential is evident in his having beaten all of the Big Four in his career. His offensive base-line play has put defenders in trouble many times, given his impressive shot-playing (as opposed to shot-making) abilities. He has this play pressure shot after shot, below finishing off the point when the opponent gets exposed to a degree untenable. Djokovic had his share of such Tsonga-induced troubles at the 2012 French Open quarterfinals, when he had scrap through to win the match, saving a couple of match points in the process.
Why does he not live up to his potential: Although controlled and balanced, Tsonga's offensive gameplay leaves him with a higher degree of risk than the typical player would endure. The greater number of unforced errors that naturally come with such strategic overreach would prevent Tsonga from having the margins needed to secure victory, especially in the most crucial moments, when players his standard would typically become more energized while increasing their level of conservativeness.
Do you have any other players in mind? Feel free to leave us a message in Facebook chat! We are absolutely open to anything from anybody!
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