Written by: Michael Emmett
***Michael Emmett is the Director of Tennis Operations at all Mayfair clubs. He is a certified Tennis Canada Coach 3 with a Journalism degree from the University of Texas. Michael spent several years working in sports television at TSN and Sportsnet. Michael is a former National champion who finished his last year of junior tennis ranked #1 in Canada. Michael has coached several National champions when he worked for the All-Canadian Academy at the National Tennis Centre at York University in the early 90s. Michael spent 2 years traveling the world playing the ATP tour satellite circuit as a member of the Molson National Team in 1985 and ’86.***
Since the Open Era began in 1968 there have been 41 one-time Grand Slam winners (24 males & 17 females). Many on this list have been dominant players in their career with multiple opportunities to capture a second Grand Slam title. These people, for example, Gabriela Sabatini who had 15 Grand Slam semifinal appearances in her storied career, will not be discussed in the top 10 below.
I will only be discussing the players who never really threatened to win another major. To do this I adopted a formula based on Grand Slam results. For example, many remember the name Pat Cash (he also won’t make the list as he did come close in back-to-back Australian Open finals in ’87 & ’88). He won the Wimbledon championships in 1987.
Based on giving 10pts for a Grand Slam final, 5pts for a Grand Slam semifinal and 3pts for a Grand Slam quarterfinal – Cash had 2 finals appearances (20pts), 2 semifinal appearances (10pts) and 4 quarterfinal appearances (12 pts) – for a total of 42 points.
To be ranked #1 on my list below it is all about the fewest amount of points. Keep in mind we are looking at the ‘worst’ of the one-time Grand Slam winners in the open era. In a later column I will discuss the’ best’ of the one-time winners which is a completely different topic. So players like Pat Cash and Gabriela Sabatini (mentioned above) have far too many points to be considered as the worst one-time Grand Slam winner. So without any more explanation here goes:
- Gaston Gaudio (0 pts) – Gaudio is the perfect example of the ‘ONE HIT WONDER’ as he never did get past the fourth round in another Grand Slam in his career. His miracle comeback in the 2004 French Open Final over Guillermo Coria after trailing 2-sets to love and two breaks in the third stands out as the only significant achievement in his rather vanilla career. Gaudio played in 32 Grand Slam events and had no quarter final appearances – except for his surprising victory at Roland Garros in the middle of his 15-year career.
- Barbara Jordan (0 pts) – Jordan is the older sister of the more accomplished tennis player Kathy Jordan. Her run to the 1979 Australian Open title made her the epitome of a one-hit wonder. It was in an era when the tournament did not attract many top players. Although Jordan was seeded No. 5, her run was the only time she advanced past the third round of a Grand Slam. She defeated the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seeds on her way to the title. The second seed was future tennis Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova.
- Chris O’Neil (3 pts) – O’Neil’s run to the Australian Open title in 1978 is one of the most unlikely Grand Slam titles in the Open Era. There were only 32 players in the women’s field that year. This required the players to win only five matches in a row compared to the seven wins that it takes today with 128 players. She had a career singles record of 19-52, and the Australian Open was her only career singles title. Her career-high ranking was 80. In 1971 she made her debut in her home Grand Slam and reached the quarterfinals. This was the only significant result besides her astonishing victory seven years later.
- Brian Teacher (6 pts) – Teacher will be forever remembered for his victory at the 1980 Australian Open when he beat 14th seeded Kim Warwick of Australia in the finals in straight sets. He never made it past the quarterfinals of the other three Grand Slams. With his Grand Slam victory, Teacher is one of only five American players in the Open era to have won a SINGLE Grand Slam event (along with Chang, Gerulaitis, Roddick and Tanner). Teacher totaled 6 points by reaching the quarterfinals of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 1982.
- Thomas Johansson (11 pts) – In 46 career Grand Slam appearances, Johansson only advanced past the fourth round four times. His run to capture the 2002 Australian Open came virtually out of nowhere. Johansson had never made it past the third round in Melbourne until that point, and it was the only time in 13 appearances in Australia that he advanced past the fourth round. Other than the slam in Melbourne, Johansson’s best result was a semifinal appearance in the 2005 Wimbledon championships.
- Albert Costa (14 pts) – Other than his remarkable run in 2002 when he ripped apart clay court specialist Juan Carlos Ferrero in a dominating French Open final, Costa never maximized his true potential. Costa destroyed Ferrero in the first two sets – 6-1, 6-0 – before eventually winning in four sets on that memorable day in Paris 11 years ago. The following year, Costa looked good again at Roland Garros in 2003, reaching the only semifinal in his Grand Slam career. All-in-all, one win, one semi and three quarterfinal efforts is not good enough for a guy with this much talent and that’s why he’s on this list of suspect champions.
- Anastasia Myskina (15 pts) – Myskina earned over $5 million in her career and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world. Despite that, Myskina’s title at Roland Garros was the only Grand Slam title of her career. It was the only time in 28 career Grand Slam appearances she advanced past the quarterfinals. She advanced to five other Grand Slam quarterfinals. Her run to the 2004 French Open was surprising considering in eight French Open appearances, it was the only time at she went past the second round. Myskina defeated former Grand Slam Champions Jennifer Capriati and Venus Williams and the eventual 2004 U.S. Open champion and 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
- Andres Gomez (15 pts) – The 1990 French Open was the only time in his career that Gomez made it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. The No. 4 seeded Gomez did not have to face a seeded player until the semifinals. He defeated future No. 1 and future French Open champion Thomas Muster in straight sets in the semifinals and then defeated Andre Agassi in four sets in the final to capture his only Grand Slam title. Gomez made the quarters five times in his career – three times at Roland Garros, once at Wimbledon and once at the US Open.
- Iva Majoli (15 pts) – Majoli’s run to the 1997 French Open title came amid four straight appearances in the French Open quarterfinals. She would follow up her French Open title with a run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals and would reach the quarters of the French in 1998 as well. That would be the last time she would advance that deep into a Grand Slam; she retired in June of 2004. Majoli upset then-world-No. 1 Martina Hingis. She also upset the No. 5 seed Lindsay Davenport in the fourth round. Otherwise, the No. 9 seeded Majoli did not have to defeat any higher-seeded player during her run.
- Mark Edmondson (16 pts) – Edmondson is best remembered for winning the 1976 Australian Open (defeating John Newcombe in four sets) while ranked 212th in the world, still the lowest-ranked winner of a Grand Slam tournament since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973. Edmondson’s best subsequent performance in the Grand Slams was reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open in 1981 and Wimbledon in 1982, which took him to a career high singles ranking of #15. He enjoyed more success as a doubles player, winning 34 titles, including five in Grand Slams.