When we talk about wasted talents, it immediately invites deep discussion. Fans vary in their choices. We have few Spanish, Russian, German, French, Balkans and Latin American promising players who could have joined the list. Some might say that they have surpassed their prime before retirement. Some might say that their best was yet to be extracted. Despite limitations and open discussions, let’s have a look at lost talents in men’s tennis during this decade.
5. GAEL MONFILS
Parisian Gael was named, ‘ATP Newcomer’ of the year in 2005. The same year, he climbed 200 spots in ATP rankings. In 2006, he broke into the top 25. In May, he reached semis of Rome Masters. The eventual champion, Nadal beat him in the SF. He grabbed his first Grand Slam Semifinal berth in 2008 at the French Open. He was the first Frenchman since 2001 to feature in the semifinals of the French Open. The local hero could not defeat Roger Federer in the Semis. In 2009, he breached into the top 10. He also played the first ATP Masters final without success.
After a long absence, he returned in 2015 and featured amongst the 15 best players. He played the semifinals of 2016 US open. He eventually lost a controversial match to Novak.
By far, he has collected ten ATP World Tour singles trophies. He has achieved at least one win over one top ten players every year since 2005. Wrist, shoulder and back injuries remained with him. Ugly indispensable obstacles obstructed his ambitions. His aggressive play, slides, surprises from wings, showmanship and high-risk shot making still surprises us. His past holds little value, considering his potential.
4. NIKOLAY DEVYDENKO
Nikolay was the true successor of Marat Safin. He played 4 semifinals in the Grand Slams. In both semis of French Open (2005, 2007) and both semis of US Open (2006, 2007), he was on the losing end. In three, he tasted defeat by Roger Federer. The 2005 semis was the exception. Then, unseeded Mariano Puerta of Argentina crushed his ambitions in five sets.
He achieved a career-high ranking of World number 3 in November 2006. His finest moment came in 2009 in London. In the ATP World Tour finals, he earned his first win over Federer in his 13th try. Semi-final success charged him. He beat Del Potro in the finals. He also clinched three ATP Masters titles the same year.
The offensive baseliner’s game was very similar to Andre Agassi. From 2010 onwards, wrist injuries remained with him and his form started to drop. He could not cope up. After winning 21 ATP titles, the lanky Russian hung his racket in 2014.
3. JO WILFRED TSONGA
The Frenchman was awarded the ATP newcomer in the year, 2007. That’s how he burst onto the scene. Next year in the Australian Open, he finished as the runner up. As an unseeded player, he defeated 4 seeded men en route the summit clash. It included a straight-set win over World number 2 Rafael Nadal. He appeared in two semi-finals of the French Open, in 2013 and 2015. In Wimbledon, his best showing was two semi-final appearances in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, his best performance came at the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals. Roger handed him the defeat in the finals. In February 2012, he touched a career-high ranking of five, in the world. During the 2014 Canadian Open, he dashed hopes of four top ten players on the way to lift the trophy.
He is one of the few remaining players who often utilizes a serve-and-volley type of play. His movements and jumps at the net for the ball are an eyesore. Sadly, he could not touch his true abilities.
2. JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO
His biggest achievement was the victory at the 2009 US Open. In this tournament, he defeated Nadal in the semi-finals. In the high-intensity finals, he defeated the 5 times defending champion Roger Federer. He remained the only man to win any Grand Slam outside big the Four (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray) between the 2005 French Open and 2013 US Open. From 2010, his wrist injuries forced him to stay out of action. He was on and off during the next couple of years. After a long absence, Delpo returned in 2016. He touched his highest rank 3, in the world. He led Argentina to the Davis Cup win in 2016. He came back against Marin Cilic from 2 sets down in Zagreb. He lifted the 2018 Indian Wells Masters. He reached his second Grand Slam final in the 2018 US Open. He lost in straight sets to Novak Djokovic. He was equally impressive at the Olympics. In the London Olympics, he won the Bronze medal. He upgraded it to Silver in Rio 2016.
For many months, he has been out of action. Injuries hampered his journey. Sadly, the world of tennis could not see his full potential.
1. DAVID NALBANDIAN
As a junior player, he beat Roger Federer in the finals of the US Open boy’s singles in 1998. David turned professional in 2000. Only 2 years later, he was in the finals of Wimbledon. The 28th seed Argentine faced top seed Australian Lleyton Hewitt. He could not withstand the pressure and surrendered 6-1, 6-3, and 6-2. That remained his only summit match appearance in the Grand Slams. Next year, he maintained a superb form. He was 2 sets up in the semi-finals of the 2003 US Open. In the third set tiebreaker, he lost the set from match point due to a controversial line call. It broke his rhythm. He lost the match to eventual champion Andy Roddick. In 2004, he was the favourite to win the semis of the French Open. Shockingly, it was unseeded Gaston Gaudio who won in straight sets.
His finest hour came in 2005 in Shanghai. In the finals of the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup, he beat Roger Federer from 2 sets down. That remained his only noteworthy success. In 2006 Australian Open, he threw away the match from 2 sets up to the unseeded Marcos Baghdatis. He retired hurt in the semis of the 2006 French Open. In 2009, he underwent hip surgery. After that, he slowly and gradually faded. In 2013, he called it a day.
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