Michael Emmett: “Top 25 Players of All-Time With ONLY 1 Grand Slam Victory”

In the history of the game, there are several players who have achieved ONLY one grand slam victory. Some were ‘one hit wonders’ (like Gaston Gaudio – 2004 French Open champion, who never made it to the quarterfinals of any other Grand Slam), while others were world beaters who were extremely unfortunate not to have multiple majors beside their name. Many players showed throughout their extensive career that they could have and maybe should have won multiple slams. Some on my list below are current players who likely win more majors and will undoubtedly add to their current point total as the years go on.

Written by: Michael Emmett

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***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.***

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In the history of the game, there are several players who have achieved ONLY one grand slam victory. Some were ‘one hit wonders’ (like Gaston Gaudio – 2004 French Open champion, who never made it to the quarterfinals of any other Grand Slam), while others were world beaters who were extremely unfortunate not to have multiple majors beside their name. Many players showed throughout their extensive career that they could have and maybe should have won multiple slams. Some on my list below are current players who likely win more majors and will undoubtedly add to their current point total as the years go on.

Andy Murray was exhibit A – before his recent Wimbledon victory in July – he was 1-4 in major finals. His second Grand Slam in the early part of the summer has taken him off this list forever. Now that he’s gotten the so-called monkey off his back I expect him to explode with plenty of major championship victories – just as his coach Ivan Lendl did, starting 0-4 in major championships finals before finally winning 8 Grand Slams in his storied career. If Murray was not successful in the Wimbledon final against Djokovic he would have been in second place behind Gabriela Sabatini on the rankings below. Victoria Azarenka is another player who, with her second Grand Slam in Australia in 2013, is no longer eligible. It is unlikely, based on the data used, that anyone will ever catch Sabatini.

Along with her lone victory in her illustrious career, Gabriela Sabatini – my top point getter – had 2 finals (20 pts), 15 Semi-finals (75 pts) and 10 quarter-finals (30pts) appearances for a total of 125 pts.

A simple formula was derived to come up with the comprehensive list below. The totals are all based on Grand Slam results since the open era began in 1968.

All quarter-final appearances = 3pts, all semi-final appearances = 5pts, all finals appearances = 10pts. The one Grand Slam victory for all these players below does NOT count in their point total.

This information is complete and up-to-date after completion of the 2013 US Open Championships.

    1. Gabriela Sabatini (125 pts) – Sabatini had an astonishing 10 wins over #1 ranked players in her illustrious career including a win over Steffi Graf in the finals of the 1990 US Open. With 15 semi-final appearances in her career it is somewhat shocking she only has one slam to her name. Sabatini was an electric player who was a crowd favorite everywhere she went.

    2. Conchita Martinez (98 pts) – Martinez is best known for her amazing win over 9-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova in the 1994 grass court major. Martinez beat Navratilova in the Wimbledon final 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Martinez, in 1995 and 1996, made the semi-finals in 6 of the 8 grand slam events she played in.

    3. Kerry Melville Reid (97 pts) – Reid played in 47 major championships in her 17-year career with the highlight being a victory in the 1977 Australian Open. Reid had a solid grand slam career with 10 semi-final appearances and 2 runner-up trophies in a 12-year span.

    4. Jana Novotna (94 pts) – Novotna was most remembered for her outstanding grass court game and was so close to a rare double-double (consecutive victories over Navratilova and Graf and the ’93 Wimbledon Championships)! Novotna defeated Navratilova 6–4, 6–4, setting up the Championship match against Graf. After losing a marathon first set, Novotna took a 6–7, 6–1, 4–1 lead. With victory seemingly in her grasp, she lost her nerve and confidence and allowed Graf to climb back into the match. Graf took the next five games and the title. During the prize presentation ceremony, a distraught Novotna burst into tears and cried on Katharine, The Duchess of Kent’s shoulder. The Duchess comforted her and it was one of the most remembered moments in Wimbledon history. Novotna finally won her championship plate in ’98 when she beat Natalie Tauziat in the final.

    5. Andy Roddick (92 pts) – He became a Grand Slam singles champion when he won the title at the 2003 US Open, defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final. He is currently the last North American male player to win a Grand Slam singles event. Roddick has reached four other Grand Slam finals (Wimbledon in 2004, 2005, and 2009, and the US Open in 2006). He retired at the end of the 2012 US Open after making it to the quarter finals.

    6. Goran Ivanisevic (66 pts) – Ivanisevic is the only person to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard. He achieved this in 2001 defeating Aussie Patrick Rafter 9-7 in the fifth set, having previously been runner-up at the championships in 1992, 1994 and 1998. His career-high singles ranking was World No. 2 (behind Pete Sampras) in 1994.

    7. Michael Chang (65 pts) – He became the youngest-ever male player to win a Grand Slam singles title when he won the French Open in 1989 at the age of 17. Known for his on-court speed and fighting spirit, Chang is considered by many observers to have been one of the best defensive baseliners of all time.

    8. Vitas Gerulaitis (54 pts) – Gerulaitis won the men’s singles title at one of the two Australian Open tournaments held in 1977. Gerulaitis won the tournament that was held in December, while Roscoe Tanner won the earlier January tournament. Gerulaitis also won two Italian Open titles, in 1977 and 1979, and the WCT Finals in Dallas, in 1978.

    9. Michael Stich (47 pts) – Stich won Wimbledon in 1991. He defeated the defending champion and World No. 1 Stefan Edberg in the semifinals, 4–6, 7–6, 7–6, 7–6, without breaking his service once. Then in the final, he beat his compatriot and three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker in straight sets.

    10. Roscoe Tanner (45 pts) – Tanner was famous for his big left-handed serve, which was clocked at 153 mph at Palm Springs in 1978 during the final against Raul Ramirez. He is also known for winning the men’s singles title at the first of two Australian Open tournaments held in 1977. Tanner also reached the Wimbledon final in 1979, losing the final to Bjorn Borg in five sets.

    11. Mima Jausovec (45 pts) – Jausovec’s only Grand Slam success came in the 1977 French Open singles championship against Florenta Mihai – winning the match in 3-sets. The following year, 1978, she again reached the final but was defeated by Virginia Ruzici. In 1983, she reached her third French Open singles final, losing to Chris Evert.

    12. Juan Carlos Ferrero (44 pts) – Ferrero captured the men’s singles title at the 2003 French Open, and in September of that year, became the 21st player to hold the World No. 1 ranking. He was also the runner-up at the 2002 French Open and the 2003 US Open.

    13. Li Na (42 pts) – Li won the 2011 French Open singles title, making her Asia’s first and only Grand Slam singles champion. Before this Li had already become the first player representing an Asian country to appear in a Grand Slam singles final, a milestone she achieved at the 2011 Australian Open. She was also the runner-up at the 2013 Australian Open, a two-time quarter-finalist at Wimbledon and a semi-finalist at the 2013 US Open.

    14. Pat Cash (42 pts) – The crowning moment of Cash’s career came at Wimbledon in 1987. Having already beaten Mats Wilander in the quarter-finals and Jimmy Connors in the semi-finals, Cash defeated the World Number 1, Ivan Lendl, in the final. Cash sealed the victory by climbing into the stands and up to the player’s box at Centre Court, where he celebrated with his family, girlfriend, and coach, Ian Barclay.

    15. Virginia Ruzici (39 pts) – In a career spanning twelve years, Ruzici won 12 career singles titles, including one Grand Slam title, the 1978 French Open. In the final she beat 1977 French Open champion Mima Jausovec 6–2, 6–2.

    16. Manuel Orantes (35 pts) – He won the US Open in 1975, beating defending champion Jimmy Connors in the final. Orantes reached a career-high singles ranking of World No. 2. A year earlier, he was runner-up to Bjorn Borg in the final of the French Open, taking a two-set lead before totally collapsing winning just two games in sets 3, 4 &5.

    17. Anna Ivanovic (31 pts) – Ivanovic’s struggles since winning the 2008 French Open have been constantly in the news. Since that victory, she has endured an ongoing period of reduced success, failing to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal in nineteen of her subsequent twenty Grand Slam tournaments, and dropping to world no. 65 in July 2010. Ivanovic’s only Grand Slam quarterfinal since then came at the 2012 US Open, where she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams. This, however, made her one of the few active players to have reached at least the quarterfinal stage at each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

    18. Thomas Muster (30 pts) – One of the world’s leading clay court players in the 1990s, Muster won the 1995 French Open and at his peak was known as “The King of Clay.” In addition, he won eight Masters 1000 series titles, placing him seventh on the all-time list. Muster is one of only three players to win Masters Titles on three different surfaces (clay, carpet, and hard court).

    19. Richard Krajicek (30 pts) – In 1996 Krajicek won the Men’s Singles title at Wimbledon, the only Dutch player to have done so. In the quarter-finals of that tournament he defeated Pete Sampras in straight sets. This was Sampras’ only singles defeat at Wimbledon between 1993 and 2001.

    20. Carlos Moya (30 pts) – In 1997, Moya reached his first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, defeating defending champion Boris Becker in the first round, Jonas Björkman in the fourth round, and world no. 3 Michael Chang in the semifinals in straight sets, before losing in straight sets to Pete Sampras. In 1998, Moya won the French Open. He defeated the tournament favourite, Marcelo Ríos in the quarterfinals, and fellow-Spaniard Alex Corretja in the final with a straight-sets win.

    21. Yannick Noah (29 pts) – Noah became France’s most prominent tennis hero in 1983, becoming the first Frenchman in 37 years to win the French Open. He dropped only one set during the two-week long tournament, and defeated the defending champion, Sweden’s Mats Wilander in straight sets in the final, 6–2, 7–5, 7–6. He remains the last and most recent Frenchman to have won the French Open men’s singles title.

    22. Andres Gimeno (29 pts) – The Catalan won his first and only Grand Slam in 1972. He holds the record for the oldest male player to win the French Open (at the age of 34). In the final, he beat Frenchman, Patrick Proisy, in four sets (4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-1).

    23. Sam Stosur (26 pts) – Stosur won the 2011 U.S. Open, defeating Serena Williams in the final and becoming the first Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 to win a Grand Slam singles tournament and just the second Australian woman in history to win the US Open after Margaret Court. Stosur has enormous potential but has had a difficult stretch for most of the 2013 season.

    24. Francesca Schiavone (25 pts) – In June 2010, Schiavone defied expectations to become the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title, defeating Sam Stosur 6–4, 7–6 at the French Open. The victory made her only the third Italian player to win a Grand Slam event in singles, after Nicola Pietrangeli and Adriano Panatta.

    25. Juan Martin Del Potro (25 pts) – Del Po is a guy who I expect to climb this list in no time. That’s if he’s not lucky enough to win another Grand Slam title. Del Po is super talented and the odds are very good he’ll win another major and be taken off this list. He was electric in 2009 when he beat Roger Federer in a tight five setter in the championship match. Then he suffered a major setback and needed wrist surgery to repair ligament damage. He seems healthy again and looked great in the middle of the summer in London – losing an epic 5 set match to Novak Djokovic in the best match of the 2013 tennis season.

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Everyone knows the importance of mental strength, but not everyone knows how to go about it. If these ring a bell with you, let me help strengthen your player’s mental fitness. Zoom workshops every Friday November 20 – December 18. 2020.

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