There was news this week that Bernard Tomic has been ditched from the Australian Davis Cup team reportedly after his behaviour has consistently let him down throughout 2012.
First he got into hot water with the police for driving his BMW M3 outside of his curew, then later in the year he failed to stop for police and most recently got into a fight on a hotel rooftop where he was partying.
He’s come out this week saying that he’s going to be the greatest player of all time, a bout of trouble and then a bold statement usually never end well. In fact I’m hard pressed to recall a player who has successfully defended their attitude and made themselves into a great player.
With someone like Tomic I doubt his claims of slam wins will come to fruition. But that also got me thinking, who are the biggest wasted talents in the world of tennis? Let’s take a look…
First on my list is Richard Gasquet, probably because I’ve watched his generation of tennis more than any other and seen him lose matches from winnable positions time after time.
The guy has probably the best one handed backhand on tour yet he’s only ever managed to win ATP Masters 250 tournaments.
A man with Gasquets talents and shotmaking ability should be able to make the latter stages of Grand Slams and surely have a couple of Masters 1000’s in his trophy cabinet but sadly for him the mental side of his game lets him down. Perhaps the biggest indicator of this is where he lost from 2 sets up against Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2008.
Gasquet is still only 26 so still has time on his side to achieve in the game but I don’t see it happening, he had the cocaine scandal that pegged him back and he got a back injury at the end of this season that might be a sign of things to come.
It’s not often you can criticise a guy who’s won 2 Grand Slams, after all most players are happy to even win one but you get the feeling with someone like Safin it could have been a lot more.
He first made a name for himself when he comprehensively beat Pete Sampras at the 2000 US Open to win his first Grand Slam.
Sampras dubbed him “the future of tennis” after that match but Safin was only able to add one more slam trophy to his resume when he beat Lleyton Hewitt in the 2005 Austrlian Open final.
For one reason or another things just didn’t happen for Safin, he suffered a lot of injuries, had a habit of self imploding, smashing rackets and generally not living up to his potential. He lost a lot of matches where he was in the driving seat purely because he blew his top, let something minor effect him or just became disillusioned with the surface he was playing on; most notably grass.
Winston Churchill one said that Russia was “a riddle, wrapped inside a mystery, inside an enigma” and perhaps that’s the best way of describing Safin’s career.
Anyone who’s ever having the pleasure of seeing Nalbandian play will know that he’s one of the cleanest ball strikers on tour.
It looked like he would go onto big things when he made the Wimbledon final in 2002 a mere two years after he turned pro. But Nalbandian or Fat Dave as he’s known by the fans has been blighted by injuries, perhaps a lack of physical fitness contributed to that. He also struggles when matches become a battle of mental strength rather than raw talent.
A wasted talent? You’d have to say so, anyone who can give players like Federer and Nadal big problems has to have something about them; Nalbandian just he lacks the consistency and the mentality to keep it up for a sustained period. And at 30 years old that’s not going to change.
If ever there was a video to sum up Nalbandian’s career, then this was it:
The man Roger Federer beat to win his first Grand Slam and Wimbledon final; Philippoussis also made the final of the US Open where he lost to fellow countryman Pat Rafter.
A big serve and a lot of talent that was never really realised, it’s widely documented he had the poorest work ethic out of any of the top players in his era and it just goes to show that talent alone isn’t enough to get you to the pinnacle of the sport. Could and should have won slams but the Scud ultimately became a dud.
I remember seeing Malisse for the first time when he made the semi finals at Wimbledon in 2002, a complete natural but unfortunately for him a bit of a head case.
No focus, hot tempered and not blessed with the determination of other Flemish counterparts like Olivier Rochus. He’s probably one of the best shotmakers out there (perhaps even close to Roger’s skills), as these highlights from Chennai in 2011 show but just doesn’t have that presence of mind to win when it matters.
Other Notable Candidates
- Fernando Verdasco – after he took Nadal to five sets in 2009 at the Australian Open I thought he could go onto achieve a lot more, sadly his career has gone backwards since then and I’ve heard some circles say it’s due to his lack of commitment.
- Ernest Gulbis – Still young but can’t seem to progress to the top echelons of the game.
- Gael Monfils – Another young player with immense talent but blighted by injuries, has a lot of power but can’t seem to turn that into attacking play. According to Henry Leconte he may quit tennis all together after he missed most of 2012 with injury.
- James Blake – Huge groundstrokes but absolutely no court sense.
- Guillermo Coria – Former Top 5, lost the French Open final to Gauston Gaudio after a major choke, got the yips on his serve and never recovered.
- Tommy Haas – Maybe a little harsh putting Haas in the list as his lack of career achievements stem from injury rather than a poor work ethic or mental weakness but regardless one of the biggest talents to not win a slam.
- Marcos Bagdhatis – One of the characters on tour that’s for sure with his non stop grin but his career is another that promised so much yet never really found the heights. Made the Australian Open final in 2006 but never kicked on.
- Marcelo Rios – the only man in the open era to reach number 1 without ever winning a slam. I didn’t see a lot of his career but from what I have read he falls into the underachiever column.
It also appears that Tsonga could go the same way, a great performance to make the 2008 Australian Open final but just can’t seem to make that jump.
Do you think Tomic will be another wasted talent? And who in your opinion is the player you feel has been the biggest wasted talent you have seen on the tennis tour? Let me know in the comments.