Time is free of cost, but it’s limited and cannot be accumulated. Time is precious and some players on the ATP circuit are running short on it. These players are slowly getting pushed more into a dark night devoid of opportunity. While you might think that Roger Federer should be at the top of this list and maybe even Rafael Nadal, we’re referring to the underachievers who haven’t won the big one yet. And also, both Federer and Nadal have still – at times – shown they have something left in the tank. We’re looking a bit further out for players that are further in the twilight of their career.
Life might begin at 30 for some, but for most tennis players, it starts fading painfully at this juncture. Can the perennial underachievers finally come up with the goods and break the jinx in 2017?
Old age means different things to different people. Andre Agassi, who peaked into his 30s, pushed younger men into submission and won multiple Grand Slams. The same can’t be said about Ferrer, who is approaching 35 and knows the end is near.
In 2013, Ferrer made his first major final at Roland Garros and if not for Rafael Nadal, the greatest clay-courter of all time, we wouldn’t be discussing Ferrer on the list of players too good to not have won a slam. Ferrer has a workmanlike ethic, and the world respects and admires the little beast for that. He is a classical baseline brawler, who has speed and the tenacity to outlast his opponents but has lacked the attacking weapon to scare the ‘Big Four’.
Despite his evident limitations, Ferrer will be remembered as the one who maxed out his potential and never gave up. As the clock ticks, the chances of winning an elusive Grand Slam diminishes. In fact, that boat has already sailed.
The quality of sunset years is influenced by one’s own mindset and thinking, but sometimes it’s also ruined by fading health. Tomas Berdych has all the tools required to become a major champion, but has he ever believed in his own potential? Maybe he has hired Goran Ivanisevic for exactly that purpose–to make him believe in his vast potential.
Berdych beats the players he is supposed to beat, but against the ones ranked above him and perhaps men of equal talent, he trembles and succumbs to defeat. The tall Czech finished 2016 in the ATP top 10 for the seventh consecutive season, but the fact that he hasn’t been able to conquer his own demons for so long is what is frustrating.
Tsonga ended the season with solid results but there was nothing to suggest he would win bigger prizes. Despite not winning a single title, he ended the year at No. 12 in the rankings. Blessed with a huge serve and offensive baseline game, he can demolish anybody on the court.
Tsonga is charismatic, an out and out entertainer, who often urges the crowd to get behind him after a big point, but no tag suits him better than an underachiever. 12 career titles including two Masters shields and four major semifinal appearances are a lot. However, for Tsonga, it’s not even half the justice to his enormous potential.
Tsonga may not have made a Grand Slam final since 2008 but he’ll always remain a threat on the ATP Tour.
There is still a ray of hope for Gael Monfils although it’s getting a little dark out there. The Frenchman’s mental faculty is only improving and he has always been high on spirits. Any match involving Monfils is sheer entertainment, but at the age of 30, he realizes being entertaining isn’t reaping any rewards. Results on the other hand are of the essence, more so as Father Time closes in.
Monfils is lean but has to learn to be meaner, stronger and ruthless if he dreams of repeating Yannick Noah’s feat– to win a major for France (1983). It’s evident he is making a conscious effort to bring discipline to the table. Monfils wouldn’t be World No. 6 if he didn’t try to cause the change. Now, if he stays away from injuries and embraces discipline, he’ll reach the heights he’s dreaming to reach on the ATP Tour.
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